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David McDade Post 1

18 May 2020, 13:42 Edited by the author on 19 May 2020, 15:27

Section 2, Activity 4

This thread is for section 2, activity 4

Case study Sticker time

A tutor has recently taken on a cohort of 20 students for a particular module. Most of the students in the cohort have studied with the OU. However, there are a few students that whilst having not studied for a number of years, they have also never studied with the OU. After a recent online tutorial combined with poor TMA results, the tutor has become concerned that these students are starting to disengage with their module.

Using the bullet points from section 2.6, what two steps do you think the tutor can take to get the students back on track with their studies? Also briefly describe one or two other methods that can perhaps be used in combination with the chosen steps.

Have a look at some other discussions. Do you agree with the other posts?

These are examples of the types of posts we might expect to see:

"Encouraging students - further individual engagement with students through email or perhaps phone in order to provide support."

"Feeding forward and determining mid to long-term goals – this could perhaps be carried out through feedback in the TMAs and, in particular, through summary feedback that is returned with each marked TMA, as well as through individual conversation. "

Use the "Reply" button below to contribute to this discussion.

(Image CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 Flickr user Mooshme
Picture of Duncan Hall

Duncan Hall Post 2 in reply to 1

4 Jun 2020, 14:34

This is an interesting aspect of the tutor role and to my mind revolves in part around understanding the person as an individual as well as understanding a little about their circumstances. Should they be willing to be sufficiently open about that then hopefully some clarity of the context and root cause issue can be surfaced. Once that is understand then some collaborative coaching should I would hope be able the individual to outline a roadmap to get on track / improve. This might for example include specific 1:1, additional learning sources, perhaps buddying up with another student for some aspects, perhaps being encouraged to take a lead in a group discussion. 

There are parallels here to the world of business in terms of how to motivate and manage teams to achieve both as a team and as a collection of individuals.

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Jenny Bakkali Post 3 in reply to 2

4 Jun 2020, 14:43

Hi Duncan,

Welcome the course and the forum.

Good to see your comments and that you are already making progress with the course.

Perhaps you could also post on the introduction thread, saying a little about what you would like to gain from the course and any general questions you might have about the course or becoming an OU tutor.


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Brian Morton Post 12 in reply to 2

8 Jun 2020, 21:03

I agree with buddying but I know with remote learning this does not always work, students will set up their own WhatsApp groups etc with no tutor input, but I believe encouragement from the OU point of view is the most important tool of all, but encouragement is just a tool, it must be backed up with some concrete ways to help the student, I always believe an AL must understand the course they are teaching like the back of their hand, it is key that a tutor can help a student with directing the student to other web sites which may assist them and also through the AL's own produced aids, an example of which maybe a step through guide of how to use a calculator or even producing helpful descriptions of an area that a student may find difficult from the OU text, every AL's ambition should be to ensure that every student gets the best mark from a course that they could possibly achieve.

Picture of Cath Brown

Cath Brown Post 20 in reply to 12

13 Jun 2020, 19:53

The best mark, or to enjoy it the most, or to learn the most? They aren’t always the same thing !

Students do indeed set up their own groups - do you feel this is a problem, Brian? 

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Anna Pietrzak Post 26 in reply to 2

24 Jun 2020, 11:27

I think the starting point to help the students in this case study is to a conversation with the students to ask how they are doing, is anything that can help them to engage into course and offer support such as 1 to 1 tutorial, group workshop in aspects of online learning and assessments. This kind of activities can definitely help to improve communication and motivation as well as integrate the group.

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Lucy Gillett Post 4 in reply to 1

4 Jun 2020, 23:56

'Encouraging students' and 'individualising the learning experience and making things personal' are my two steps. 

Students that have never studied with the OU and also have not studied for years, may have little knowledge of how they learn, especially if they have never experienced distance learning before. A lack of engagement may signify they don't know how to, specifically for them. Are they visual learners, audio learners, practical learners and/or book worms. How do they process what they are learning? 

I myself, I write on the walls (not directly these days) I have used chalkboard walls and/or poster paper. It helps me engage to be standing and writing expressively (the kind that comes with writing on walls in larger than life text.) I also I work better with a goal, directed reading, reading with a purpose stops everything falling straight out. 

A conversation with the students to ask how they are doing may be the best course of action in this situation. Allowing them to lead the conversation, to encourage them to engage with you and subsequently the module materials.

Picture of Tamara Lopez

Tamara Lopez Post 6 in reply to 4

7 Jun 2020, 21:32

Hi Lucy,

I agree that individualising the learning experience is a good first step.  As you note, since these students are also new to study at the OU, I would probably try to also find ways to encourage them to start thinking and sharing their thoughts about the materials in the course.  I guess this is the "Encouraging reflective practice in the student" step.

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Theresa Schrem Post 41 in reply to 4

8 Oct 2020, 16:20

I like your idea of chalboard walls / poster paper - I would imagine that is very useful for concept mapping, linking topics and ideas together or making summary diagrams! 

Picture of David Sherlock

David Sherlock Post 5 in reply to 1

5 Jun 2020, 10:09

I really like Lucy's answer above, about learning styles, it is really difficult to know what works for us as an individual, and I think that encouraging the learner to be a bit playful and experiment with what works for them would be a good approach.

Also, I have never come across the term 'Feeding forward' but I think this is really important, sometimes we lose track of why we are actually doing things!

Picture of Tamara Lopez

Tamara Lopez Post 7 in reply to 5

7 Jun 2020, 21:43
Hi David, I also have not come across the term "Feeding forward" in the context of learning, and I became curious about what this means.

I found a blog post that describes feeding forward as providing encouragement on assignments as they are being done, to help students develop and improve, rather than telling students what they should have done after an assignment is finished. 

This seems like it is also feedback, but smaller, and constructive.  It seems it is maybe also linked to developing rapport and trust with the student. 

This seems like a good idea, especially if it is not up to the student to reach out to the tutor but up to the tutor to reache out to the student.

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David Sherlock Post 8 in reply to 7

8 Jun 2020, 11:26

Hi Tamara,

That is interesting, I've just done a web search and found similar articles.

That isn't how I originally understood it though! The way I had understood the term when I came across it in this activity was that the approach revolved around discussing the students long term ambitions, for example, what do they want to achive in life outside of the OU? Then the tutor could describe how the assignments and such will help them works to that.

It looks like I was wrong about the term! But, it still seems like a good idea to understand the long term goals of a student, perhaps it is a bit of both?

It would be good to have some feedback from an OU tutor on what they understand feed forward to mean.

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Jenny Bakkali Post 9 in reply to 8

8 Jun 2020, 12:06

Hi all, this is how the OU uses feedback and feedforward in correspondence tuition : -

Feedback is quite specific, it is about a student’s work, for example, ´In question 3, you needed to justify your choices’.

Feedforward, on the otherhand, is quite generic, and relates to study outcomes or study skills. For example, skills that are used repeatedly, such as time management, reading questions carefully, reflection, referencing. The aim of feedforward is to close the study skills gap, with the aim of student being able to improve future work.

Picture of David Sherlock

David Sherlock Post 10 in reply to 9

8 Jun 2020, 13:58

Thanks, that makes perfect sense.

Picture of Tamara Lopez

Tamara Lopez Post 13 in reply to 9

8 Jun 2020, 21:19

Yes thank you for this information!

Ian Cochrane

Ian Cochrane Post 33 in reply to 5

17 Jul 2020, 15:42

I have never heard of the term "feeding forward" but have used a similar concept in setting short, medium and long term goals for students. I found it quite a powerful motivator if the student were to visualise their dream job and then identify the stages they must traverse to move toward that goal. Rather than pass a module for the sake of it, each module was a building block that was essential to reach their goal.

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Heather Yorston Post 11 in reply to 1

8 Jun 2020, 18:22

I think contacting the student directly is important so they know that you care about them and their learning journey.

My two are

  • Evaluating strengths and weaknesses in students
  • Encouraging reflective practice in the student
I think the tutor has to do some analysis of the student's progress or lack thereof and also the student in return has to do some self-reflection and identify what they find easier and where they are struggling and perhaps why. It is a two-way process and conversation which could really help the student make better progress.
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Ben Pike Post 14 in reply to 1

9 Jun 2020, 15:29

Being flexible and responsive to the needs of students - Discuss with those students who are not performing what difficulties they are having with the course, and see if arrangements can be made to make them more comfortable with the tutoring process.

Encouraging students - Working with students to show them what they have learned and accomplished so far on the course and help them regain some drive to continue.

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Anna Pietrzak Post 27 in reply to 14

24 Jun 2020, 11:31
Yes, flexibility and understanding without any judgment is crucial in this case.
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Adrian Hehir Post 15 in reply to 1

9 Jun 2020, 17:33


I initially chose:

Individualising the learning experience and making it personal; e.g. by emailing phoning directly or 


Evaluating strengths and weaknesses in students; find out why they are not attending or completing TMAs

I have read through other's responses and I also did not understand what feedforward was but now I think study skills such as setting time aside to regularly to complete work is very important.


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Pauline Hewgill Post 16 in reply to 1

10 Jun 2020, 09:09

Encouraging students – they may be feeling overwhelmed with developing study skills as well as taking in the subject material. I would ask them to break down the steps required in order to move forward as well as reviewing what they have achieved so far.

Facilitating the development of skills – once I know what skills they need to develop I would point to/provide resources to help the student develop these. Like Lucy I am a visual learner so I might encourage students to use tools such as mind maps, flowcharts etc.

Other important steps would be: Being flexible and responsive to the needs of students; Evaluating strengths and weaknesses in students

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Jerry Tomlinson Post 17 in reply to 1

10 Jun 2020, 13:30

  • Encouraging students
  • Teaching students
  • Facilitating the development of skills
  • Helping students attain learning outcomes
  • Individualising the learning experience and making it personal
  • Being flexible and responsive to the needs of students
  • Evaluating strengths and weaknesses in students
  • Encouraging reflective practice in the student
  • Identifying the next steps in learning
  • Feeding forward and determining the mid to long-term goals of the student
  • Encouraging independent learning.

I would email the struggling students asking if there was anything they felt was missing in the service I was providing them with. And also asking if there were any personal issues surrounding there recent somewhat disappointing TMA scores. I would suggest they put a realistic recovery plan in place to achieve a desired objective in terms of final module score.

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Emmanuel Isibor Post 18 in reply to 1

12 Jun 2020, 17:12

The tutor could send an email to each of the students with feedback on their academic performance. 

After providing them with the feedback, the tutor could ask the students what they think the problem is while assuring the students of his willingness to support them in attaining the expected learning outcomes.

Once the tutor gets a reply from the students on what they think the problems are, the tutor will be better positioned to support or signpost them as the case maybe.

It may also be a good idea to ask the students if they fancy joining a group of other students to study together. This will help the students to collaborate, inspire one another and enrich their learning experience.

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Marcus Young Post 19 in reply to 1

12 Jun 2020, 19:10 Edited by the author on 12 Jun 2020, 19:11

I would contact the students to start with and ask them if there were any particular problems or issues that I could help them with. As new students to the OU there could be a range of possible factors affecting their performance. They could be struggling to put aside time to study or to study without disturbance. It could be they need some guidance how to make best use of study materials provided. Or it could be they don't understand the material and need it presented in a different way or perhaps directed to alternative resources.

Even if their TMA was poor, I would want to find something positive about it (which would hopefully have been included in the TMA feedback). But sometimes with feedback it's very easy for the student to just see the negative and ignore the positive completely, so reiterating what they had done well and providing guidance/direction on areas requiring improvement, as well as just general encouragement.

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Cath Brown Post 21 in reply to 1

13 Jun 2020, 20:01

I think restoring confidence is going to be one of the key things, and getting the students in the frame of mind to learn from their mistakes and take the feedback as useful rather than a judgement 

In my experience, students who do badly often take one of two approaches - they decide they aren’t cut out for it (blame themselves) or go for external blame - “the materials aren’t clear” or “the question was ambiguous” or “my tutor marked me down”. So alongside the study skills aspects others have discussed, I think a bit of a focus on learning from feedback and developing a growth mindset would be helpful. It would be helpful to agree some achievable targets from the work so far.  It’s really important they get some experience of success fairly quickly.

Also, students who’re disappointed may stop studying for a bit, then if they feel like starting again, panic - so helping them plan what they can do to get back on track, and prioritise the material that’s really urgent, 

Might also be useful, before conversations, to have a look at anything analytics can show about how they are engaging with the module site 

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Quentin McPhee Post 22 in reply to 1

16 Jun 2020, 14:53

Encouraging students and determining the mid to long-term goals of the student

Since it is only a few students that need to be encouraged it might be appropriate to understand what motivated each of the poorly performing students to start the module in the first place. By having a one to one conversations (email, phone, telco) about the reasons, the students might well gained a renewed enthusiasm to engage with the learning experience.

Being flexible and responsive to the needs of students

During the conversation an obvious question would be "is there any way that I can adjust the module delivery to make it more accessible to you?".

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Kate Sim Post 23 in reply to 22

17 Jun 2020, 15:05

I like your idea of contacting the student on a one-to-one basis and that does work in many case.  However although you can make adjustments in the way tutorials are delivered and how you communicate with your students, it isn't usually within a tutor's power and influence to  adjust the delivery of the whole module.  

Most modules have most of the materials available in different formats and you may be able to help your student by making them aware of what is available.

Does that make sense?

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Gaby Lama Post 24 in reply to 1

19 Jun 2020, 01:45

Agreeing with other colleague, I think encouraging students to assimilate the module tasks with their own experience would be the most appropriate approach 

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Michael Liedl Post 25 in reply to 1

23 Jun 2020, 18:27

When I started OU, I was so overwhelmed with my new workload (fulltime job and OU) and the generally massive amount of material to cover (viewed from someone returning to study) that I lost sight of the TMA deadline (I was working on the wrong TMA with a later deadline). Then when the deadline came and went (the day after) I didn’t even realise that an extension was possible. The subject matter was easy enough that given a three day extension, I would have been able to finish at least 80% of the TMA. But it ended up that I got zero points for that TMA and  shortly after was contacted by an impersonal Mr SST with a generic offer of assistance to review the number of courses I was taking.

So, if I knew that I had a few students who had not studied for a number of years and never studied with the OU, as a Tutor, I would have acted well before the TMA deadline and even before the tutorial by contacting each of the new students by email or otherwise to welcome them and establish an ongoing personal contact. I would have followed up several times before the first TMA deadline to see if they were proceeding OK and if I perceived any issues I would have organised a one-to-one session on a sample topic of the Unit under study to see if they had any difficulties with the subject and to review a typical good TMA style answer to a sample problem.

In brief, I would apply a “preventive medicine” tutoring support knowing by experience the difficulties one can encounter when coming back or starting University level studies and I would establish immediate contact with a strong personal welcome reinforced by several interactions before the first TMA deadline.

I guess this puts my method  under the following two captions:

-          Individualising the learning experience and making it personal

-          Being flexible and responsive to the needs of students

(but other captions are equally relevant)

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Kate Blackham Post 62 in reply to 25

7 Aug 2021, 18:00

Michael raised some interesting points here. Students who are mature returnees to education and newbies to the OU will probably have some study skills deficits, I know I did when I began my first degree. They may not have developed the organisational techniques and time management techniques necessary to succeed. This will no doubt form part of the AL's work when tutoring at level 1. 

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Rachael Luck Post 28 in reply to 1

4 Jul 2020, 14:28

Activity 4 case study

Need to encourage students to continue their studies, by reflecting on what they have already achieved to date and to put the achievement to date in the context of what they can achieve on the course- plan ahead.

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Manoj Nanda Post 29 in reply to 1

10 Jul 2020, 16:26

S2A4 - back on track

The students who have not studied for a few years, may have additional barriers to learning and not aware of the approach and discipline needed to self motivate through a distance learning course.

Measures to bring them back on track could be using the following strategies

Checking in with students on an individual basis or through phone to discuss any difficulties they may have- identify strengths and weaknesses then signpost resources and give motivation / encouragement to move forward. if this does not work also investigate ALS/additional support especially if there is an appropriate disclosure

Target setting - setting smaller manageable goals with more frequent check ins for a period of time. Providing clear feedback on the TMAs and also signposting learners to appropriate resources so they can find solutions themselves.

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Rod Gliven Post 30 in reply to 1

12 Jul 2020, 22:03 Edited by the author on 12 Jul 2020, 22:06

Activity 4: Case Study

  1. Individualising the learning experience and making it personal.
  2. Being flexible and responsive to the needs of students.
IMHO: If a student is struggling the course, they would require additional support from the Tutor, which might take different forms depending on circumstances.

Whilst I appreciate that an individual student should not receive preferential treatment, there should be a recognised framework of enhanced support & assistance.

Picture of Kate Sim

Kate Sim Post 31 in reply to 30

13 Jul 2020, 07:13

Hi Rod,

As tutors, we have the option to request extra 1-to-1 sessions when a student is struggling. It is possible for these to be run by other tutors if we don't have the time to run them ourselves.

Welcome to the course.  It would be good if you could introduce yourself here:

Kate - one of the mods

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Ganiat Kazeem Post 32 in reply to 1

13 Jul 2020, 22:36

Engage, Discuss, Strategise

I would consider engaging the students at the next session by organising a group seminar. At the seminar, I would be looking to capture student views on how they are getting on with the course, how they feel they are doing, any difficulties they are having with learning material or learning and what they expect from the course. Sometimes disengagement or disinterest can be due to students not finding the course as they expected and it may be that adapting the learning material to achieve learning goals and meet their needs is needed. 

Arrange module discussion time, allowing a little time at middle and end of a module, particularly before any TMA are due to ensure students know and understand what is expected of them in assignments and beyond this that they are also up to date with learning goals and keeping to their study plans. This is also an opportunity to encourage sharing of learning and or study tips. 

Develop strategies to support and engage the students with the students as co owners of solutions.  

Ian Cochrane

Ian Cochrane Post 34 in reply to 1

17 Jul 2020, 16:04

I would suggest the main interventions would be:

  • Evaluate strengths and weaknesses of students,
  • individualise the learning experience.

It is vital to identify the issues impacting on student performance and to plan some remedial practices to recover the situation before stress factors drive the students away.

Picture of Jonathan Hopkins

Jonathan Hopkins Post 35 in reply to 1

27 Jul 2020, 20:51

You could look at all of the strategies suggested and conclude that at some time and place they would add value.

In my own experience when teaching with a disparate group, the one thing you have to try to do is to individualise the experience. In my current role we get Computer Science students coming to us from another school. They teach CS at GCSE in a different way to our programme the consequence being that the students are far less capable as practical coders than our students. Those "visiting" students then have a slightly different programme, not in terms of content but how we deliver that content to them. Generally all students are on an even keel by the beginning of Year 12.

I always feel high energy and encouragement is of universal benefit, the teacher who is engaged and excited about the work they are doing will often carry the students with them. I understand that "reflective" practice is very much a buzz word at the moment, and whilst I think that an element of thinking about what we have done and why we have done it is useful, it does concern me that an over-emphasis especially drifting into phenomenonology is not helpful.

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Gail Ollis Post 36 in reply to 1

9 Aug 2020, 14:51
Individualising the learning experience and making it personal
This would be my first thought for these students. Since the ones with OU experience remain engaged, it's possible that the others are not feeling a sense of belonging/"worth". Time to remind them why they are here and that while they may be on the early steps of their OU journey, they're heading in the right direction.
Helping them to re-focus on looking towards their own goals might include "Evaluating strengths and weaknesses in students" and "Encouraging reflective practice in the student" in order to inform "Facilitating the development of skills"

While the overall division is along the lines of prior experience, this doesn't mean everyone's issue is the same. It sounds like many are likely to be experiencing the challenge of starting OU study generally, but there may also be some struggling with subject matter. Hence "Being flexible and responsive to the needs of students" - individual students - by finding out if there are particular course topics troubling them, and then "Helping students attain learning outcomes" by teaching the topic. Chances are that there are some common stumbling blocks encountered on the module, so there might even be existing resources to help.

Encouraging students
It's not just personal, though! I've experienced the benefits of talking to fellow OU students. I'd also invite "old hands" to share their experience and how they apply it to the current module. This is an opportunity for "Encouraging reflective practice in the student" as the experienced student gets to reflect on their progress to date and consider the skills they could now apply, but it also benefits the new students by helping them to learn study strategies (and see that it comes with time and practice, not some special talent they lack). This is useful for both groups in "Facilitating the development of skills"

Coffee on Tyne

Bill Tarpy Post 37 in reply to 1

26 Aug 2020, 11:21

Actually out of the list of bullet points I would probably end up doing all of them to some extent. Having managed teams in the IT industry for a few years the only one missing is the one I always tried to avoid - first threatening and then giving someone the "boot" - however in a business people are paid money to be there, whereas in the OU people are paying money to be there so it's not the same at all!

I can't help feeling that if there are several in the group who are having issues it might be a sign of some other problem. I would consider that too.

To answer the question, if I have to choose two bullet points they would be - 

·       Facilitating the development of skills

You could help them out in the short term but only they can sort out any underlying issues. If they have not been in a learning situation for many years they will undoubtably need to learn how to learn again.

·       Feeding forward and determining the mid to long-term goals of the student

In other words how are you going to get where you want to go. Never mind mid to long term, sometimes short term is what's needed and then build on that.

Picture of Brian Gordon

Brian Gordon Post 38 in reply to 1

17 Sep 2020, 10:10 Edited by the author on 17 Sep 2020, 10:10

From the list, two steps the tutor can take to get the students back on track with their studies are:

  1. Encouraging students
  2. Individualising the learning experience and making it personal

Two other methods:

  A. Find ways to make the material more interesting, for example, relating it to a real life current situation

  B. Use some form of group activity or challenge.

Picture of Jenny Bakkali

Jenny Bakkali Post 39 in reply to 38

17 Sep 2020, 10:49

Hi Brian

Good to see you here on the forum. Hope you are finding the course useful.

Any chance you could add a post to the introduction thread too? 



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Petra Wolf Post 40 in reply to 1

20 Sep 2020, 16:38

I think the problem here is that the students have done badly in their TMA, so my primary objective would be to Help students to attain the learning outcomes by asking them to reflect on their study practice and then identify next steps with them on how to improve. The reflection exercise should help the students to identify their strengths and weaknesses, we could use those insights to determine mid and long-term goals  which might be different for each student.
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Silvia Varagnolo Post 43 in reply to 40

16 Oct 2020, 12:44

Hi Petra,

I agree on you points about the importance of meeting the learning outcomes and of the reflection exercise. Also, I think establishing mid-term goals is a really good strategy to keep the student engaged.

Picture of Theresa Schrem

Theresa Schrem Post 42 in reply to 1

8 Oct 2020, 16:24

I think that I would first try and talk to the students about their previous learning experience, whether it was good and what they remember liking about it or what was helpful to them. I would try to identify if there was anything obvious lacking from the current OU course which I could put right. Another approach in a second step would be to try to help them identify stumbling blocks in their learning and helping them fill in the missing steps.

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Silvia Varagnolo Post 44 in reply to 1

16 Oct 2020, 12:51

I think I would contact the student to analyse the reasons for being unsuccesful at the TMA and then I would work with them on a plan to reach the learning outcomes required to pass the TMA

Another method I could suggest is to have regular virtual meetings or calls to monitor the progress in relation to the established plan.

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Kussar Khan Post 45 in reply to 1

25 Oct 2020, 13:41

If students haven't studied for a number of years but also haven't studied with the OU I would assume that the best way of supporting them would be to work on

  • Facilitating the development of skills

since this might be a hindrance to their ability to focus, stay engaged and learn.  What I have found in the classroom with younger learners is that their barriers are quite often not intellectual, but generally to do with their ability to participate due to a lack of something else.  So, for OU learners I would assume that the remote learning environment and technology might be big hurdles for them.  I would try and help students with overcoming these by making trying to 

  • Individualise the learning experience and making it personal

so that they feel supported and able to re-engage with the learning.

Picture of Jenny Bakkali

Jenny Bakkali Post 46 in reply to 45

26 Oct 2020, 14:32

Hi Kussar,

Welcome to the course - I hope you are finding it interesting.

Great to see that you are posting too.

Can I ask a favour - could you also post on the intro discussion.



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Dhouha Kbaier Post 47 in reply to 46

25 Nov 2020, 11:45

Keeping an eye on these students, trying to engage them, if they don't ask questions or send emails, maybe sending emails to them or asking questions to them during the tutorial, etc.

Picture of Kevin Frost

Kevin Frost Post 48 in reply to 1

20 Dec 2020, 23:23

I think encouraging the students is one key thing although this may take different forms depending upon interactions with the student and what we discover motivates them.

I also thing that "Feeding forward and determining the mid to long-term goals of the student" is important  as this is part of understanding what motivates the students, which may not be study related in a direct sense. There may be opportunities then to make the learning experience more learner centred and this feel more relevant to the learners goals and interests.

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Tony Sheppard Post 49 in reply to 1

7 May 2021, 14:57

It is hard to respond without just repeating things that others have said previously. 

For me, if a student has struggled with in item of work I help to break down where in their initial learning the missing link is. This can be time consuming, but with experience of the course materials, you can start to identify common points where it is likely to happen.

Helping students overcome any barriers or blockage by giving them particular study techniques can also set them up for successes later on in the course, as well as other courses.

Picture of Kate Sim

Kate Sim Post 50 in reply to 49

7 May 2021, 15:05

It is hard to respond without just repeating things that others have said previously.

Yes, we have only recently added an archive facility for the older messages, and I'm removing them slowly.

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Sian Armstrong-Hollins Post 51 in reply to 1

17 May 2021, 20:44

I think that the tutor needs to fulfil two roles here to help the struggling students.

Primarily they need to support and encourage them - to ensure that they do not lose interest or engagement in the module. But this will be greatly facilitated by getting the more successful students involved in supporting them - to create something of a role model for them to follow.

The tutor needs to put in place the framework, through support and guidance, to develop the goals - short term and longer term to help the students succeed. This will likely involve facilitating the development of their study skills.

Picture of Jenny Bakkali

Jenny Bakkali Post 52 in reply to 51

18 May 2021, 12:52

Hi Sian,

Welcome to the forum. 

Hope you are finding it useful.

Please post a message if you have any queries and can you also post on the introduction thread. thread


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Fiona Baxter Post 53 in reply to 1

18 Jun 2021, 13:14

Poor marks does not necessarily equate to disengagement, nor does it necessarily mean there is issue with the online tutorial.

It could be that the learners have had difficulty matching their knowledge and skills with the learning outcomes, especially if they’ve not studied for a long time. The marks may give indication of where there are strengths and weaknesses in their knowledge or skills, which in turn may suggest an appropriate action plan to help facilitate improving their competence in particular areas. You can then be more individualised, encouraging their strengths whilst focusing on supporting with examples of how they can meet gaps in the learning outcomes and improve their assignment towards this.

It is also possible that there are other reasons why they have performed poorly so I’d prepare to be open, flexible and respond to any other needs appropriately.
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Michael Coggins-Lunt Post 54 in reply to 1

24 Jun 2021, 12:20

  • Individualising the learning experience and making it personal
  • Identifying the next steps in learning

By individualising the learning this can make students re-engage and take ownership of their learning.

By making clear the next steps, students will feel in control again after maybe losing their footing. They can refresh and focus on what needs to be done to achieve their goals.

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Elena Sanchez-Heras Post 55 in reply to 1

4 Jul 2021, 18:34
As a tutor, I would evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of these students and identify the next steps of their learning. To aid these aims. I would facilitate the development of distance learning skills and encourage independent learning.
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Charlotte Jukes Post 56 in reply to 1

5 Jul 2021, 12:42

Firstly, I would find out if there are any issues preventing the student from engaging with their studies. They may have things going on in life that are taking precedence. I would offer any support necessary to encourage the student. 

If the student had not studied for a long time, or not studied with the OU, I would suggest some support with their study skills. They may be struggling with working independently, or online. They may not be aware of some of the ICT support available, or how certain aspects of online learning work. I would ensure that the student was confident in accessing the information needed to carry out their studies. 

I would encourage the student to look at feedback given for previous TMAs and reflect upon their learning. This would help them to feel motivated, but also to have an awareness of any areas needing improvement, providing them with a goal. 

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John Dunning Post 57 in reply to 1

7 Jul 2021, 11:12

I would look at individualising the learning experience for those students whilst encouraging them to ask me questions or express concerns to me, so that I could better assist them.

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Ann Kretzschmar Post 58 in reply to 1

7 Jul 2021, 23:23

Get to know your students as individuals so that you have an understanding of any issues they have come in with as this can help you to help them move forward and break down the learning barriers.

Try to identify any specific issues and work with students to set a series of short term acheivable goals so they feel less over-whelmed by the experience.

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Stephen Butler Post 59 in reply to 1

14 Jul 2021, 14:24 Edited by the author on 14 Jul 2021, 14:26

From the list I would say the two steps to try and re-engage the students would be:

* Encouraging students,

Helping students attain learning outcomes.

It can be demoralising if it seems like you're struggling and/or falling behind. In these situations it can help to try and find some "quick wins" for the student to improve their self-confidence and help them win back some motivation to continue. Also, it's worth trying to find out what their personal situation is at the time. They may have other difficulties which are impacting their studies at this time or they may need help with developing study skills and routines so that they can learn to keep up etc.

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Suzie Miller Post 60 in reply to 1

3 Aug 2021, 02:56

  • Individualising the learning experience and making it personal - So trying to understand is it a time issue, or an understanding of the content problem and suggest ways to approach either differently. 

  • Evaluating strengths and weaknesses in students - If it's someone who hasn't done intensive learning before, trying to give confidence about the areas of strength they do have. Then find tips for the areas of weakness as above. 

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Ann Holmes Post 61 in reply to 60

5 Aug 2021, 08:12

This is a difficult question, because students may disengage for a variety of reasons. The main approach I would take is to word my feedback in an encouraging and constructive way, offering a one-to-one support session if students are struggling with specific aspects of their work, or directing them to particular study skills sites on the OU website.

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Richard Collins Post 63 in reply to 61

13 Aug 2021, 19:38

I think it would be important to first understand why they have disengaged Ann. It could be that a student has made an error and is studying a module that is not for them. 

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Richard Collins Post 64 in reply to 1

13 Aug 2021, 19:46

I'm not sure what it would look like when a student is disengaging from a module. 

My first step would be "Feeding forward and determining the mid to long-term goals of the student". That is I would endeavour to discover why they are under preforming and not taking part. By doing this you could then discuss how to move forward and build a plan. 

Secondly, if the student wishes, employ the "Individualising the learning experience and making it personal" step. See if there is a way I can help them with OU study, it maybe as simple as helping them organise their time. Early on they may find it hard to put their studies first, helping them to refocus could help with this.

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Jenny Bakkali Post 66 in reply to 64

14 Aug 2021, 20:14

Hi Richard,

You might recognise a student becoming disengaged from a module if marks for their assessed work go down or if their usual attendance or behaviour at tutorials changes. It could also be things like they miss cut-off dates for assessments or are not responding to contact. 


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Robert Stocks Post 65 in reply to 1

13 Aug 2021, 19:51

I think looking at the options they could all be utilised in their won right to support re engagement. I think the key part is early intervention and having conversations with the students and ascertaining any reasons for concerns. From there targets and positivity around flexible approaches and support tutorials to try and really encourage re engagement and also other strategies such as assigning lead roles in tasks and buddying have worked well in the past 

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Bob Moore Post 67 in reply to 1

1 Sep 2021, 17:02

My first thought would be get in touch with the individual students to get a feel for whether or not they are really disengaging.- which I guess comes under 'Feeding forward and determining the mid to long-term goals of the student' From then on other things come naturally, Do they just need encouragement? Do they need advice on study skills? Or prehaps just with organising their time so they can study? Is there some area they need special help with?

If there are several students with an issue, it is unlikely that there is a one size fits all solution, but if you don't know what the problem is you are not going to be able to fix it

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Andrea Davanzo Post 68 in reply to 1

2 Oct 2021, 15:37

Part 2 Activity 4

I chose:

Encouraging students because helps the student to look ahead and moving forward.

Helping students attain learning outcomes.By understanding those will be easy to understand what knowledge or skills the students should acquire.

For both I would offer to the students a further support by email or phone and/or video call trying also to "evaluate strengths and weaknesses in students".

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Ravi Rajani Post 69 (unread) in reply to 1

17 May 2022, 09:17

The two steps I would take are:

- Encouraging students. Contacting the students by email and if I don't get a reply, making sure to follow up by telephone. It is important that the students believe that completing the module is attainable, and that they have the encouragement and support they need to progress.

- Individualising the learning experience and making it personal. Try to understand why the students have fallen behind; make sure they are aware of all the resources that are available from the OU and where to find them; identify any weaknesses and answer questions or explain concepts, and provide links to resources that address their specific weaknesses.

I would also include:

- Teaching students. Specifically, if there is a definite need for a supplementary one-one session with the student, this can be arranged.

- Feeding forward and determining the mid to long-term goals of the student. Helping with study skills and developing a plan to manage the workload more effectively.

Discussion tags: section 2