Practitioner Enquiry

Lucy Johnson, Biology Teacher

‘Why do the AS Chemistry and AS Physics students access Moodle more than the AS Biology students?’








Why do the AS Chemistry and AS Physics students access Moodle more than the AS Biology students?




The students in the college seem to spend much of their time online, and as such the importance of accessible, high quality online resources is growing all the time. The Moodle Virtual Learning Environment was bought into the college at the beginning of the 2009/10 academic year. Biology was one of the first departments to use Moodle and I use it a lot in my own teaching with very positive feedback from my students. AS Biology was ranked 16th across the college last year in terms of students accessing its pages; AS Chemistry and AS Physics, however, were 1st and 2nd. This study aims to discover whythe Chemistry and Physics students are making more use of Moodle, and whether this is impacting positively on their learning. If it is, can we share the good practice easily across the College? The Biology and Chemistry departments also have individual teacher pages on Moodle in addition to the main subject pages. These personalised pages take up valuable server space and increase the workload of the IT support staff. This study also aims to determine whether these types of pages benefit student learning.



Key actions: (to date)


· Discussions with members of the Chemistry and Physics department have shown a more organised, integrated approach to their main subject Moodle pages, with specific staff members being given specific responsibilities for the pages. In Physics all staff members also use the Moodle gradebook and all homework assignments are on the page.


· Results shared by the Chemistry department suggest that students are using their individual teacher’s pages more often than the main Chemistry page. Student access in Biology showed the same trend. If teachers have their own pages the students seem more likely to use them than the main pages.


· A questionnaire was completed by 23 students in AS Biology who also take one or both of the other sciences. Results of this questionnaire suggest that student perception of how useful Moodle pages are is very important, however in addition the amount of staff interaction is too. Students are much more likely to use the pages for specific set tasks and then stick around to use them more often after this.


· This questionnaire, in combination with student discussion, suggests that homework assignments are very important for student involvement. Students are much more likely to make use of the pages, and perceive them positively, if they are set online assignments or have to make use of the pages to successfully complete their homework.