A call was put out for projects that involved enhancement work which reflected the QAA Enhancement Theme: Student Transitions, Phase 1. The following projects were successful and their reports are listed below:

Helping 1st Year CS students to become independent learners through automated feedback

Dr Gudmund Grov

Learning how to programme computers is one of the major hurdles for our first year Computer Sciences (CS) students across Heriot-Watt campuses. A multi-national, multi-institutional assessment of programming skills of first-year CS students found that many students do not know how to program at the conclusion of their introductory courses (McCracken et al., 2001). Some of the potential issues for this poor performance discussed in the study are constrained lab time, large classes and insufficient feedback.  In previous work, we found that automated feedback can help students to become independent learners when faced with new programming tasks (Rieser, PGCAP report, 2014). Here, we propose to extend this previous work to help first year CS students to become independent learners and master the art of programming during their first year at the university.

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BSL Interpreter Repository (BSLIR) "Why wait, when you can bring the real world into the classroom?" Improving the student transition

Mr Gary Quinn

The Aim of the BSL Interpreter Repository (BSLIR) project is to develop an online database of British Sign Language translations and interpreted scenarios that can be used as a resource to enhance teaching and learning in the British Sign Language/English Undergraduate Degree course at Heriot-Watt University. These translations and interpreted scenarios will serve as representations of the types of work practicing sign language interpreters experience on a day-to-day basis. Therefore, students will have exposure to environments, prior to working in them, which will give them an increased understanding of the dynamics and nature of the assignments they will face improving their transition into professional work.

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The Illusion of Memory: "A collaborative project between design for textiles design and industry to create interior design solutions for dementia patients"

Mrs Fiona Pankhurst

The intention of this project is to ease the transition for the Interior Design students between F.E. and H.E. and to improve the quality of their learning experience at the SBC.

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Framework for computer games industry application portfolio

Dr Stefano Padilla

This project will equip students with the starter materials and know-how to develop a successful games portfolio for jobs in the computer games industry. Links with computer games companies and games development studios, as well as past experiences with former students who went on working in the games industry have established that this portfolio is crucial in integrating the industry. A solid and targeted programming portfolio is a major factor in successful application and developing it is regarded as a major learning experience, equipping students for successful careers in games programming. Computer Science students possess basic technical skills that act as pre-requisite for working in the games industry, it is important for them, in order to integrate the industry, to further and shape these skills so as to demonstrate specific games-related practice and experience.

This project aims to support students in preparing for a transition to the games industry by providing them with a comprehensive game development tutorial series and a technical platform for them to develop their own self-learning.

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Academic families and autonomous learning groups

Dr Donna Dalgetty

The project will introduce a series of peer support activities to help welcome and encourage new students in their transition into university. This will involve 2nd and 3rd year students being trained to both mentor and facilitate groups of 1st year students in their learning of key aspects of their course. The second aim is to encourage students to interact across the different year groups with a particular emphasis on a shared set of perceived challenges, e.g. students who have children or other caring responsibilities, who aren’t necessarily supported by current campus initiatives.

Designing 'Live' - A series of one-day design charettes bringing together Heriot-Watt students of different disciplines and stages

Miss Alex MacLaren

'Designing Live’ is a series of between 2 and 4 one-day design ‘Charette’ events during Semester 2 of the 2014-15 academic year. A project will be introduced to students on a Friday afternoon, and followed by an intensive day of active teamwork all on one site, finishing with a celebration in the evening alongside invited guests. The pedagogy is ‘learning by doing’ in an environment free from fear of failure, supported by a group, and culminating in a public event. It is hoped that these short bursts of activity across year groups and disciplines will increase student confidence in unfamiliar territory.

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Student-led virtual guides of mechanical and chemical engineering

Dr Tadhg O'Donovan

Virtual Guided Tours in the form of interactive podcasts will be developed to aid student transitions in a number of key areas in Mechanical and Chemical Engineering. The project will be student led and develop virtual guides of the Engineering facilities (Labs, Lecture Theatres etc.) and crucially, embedded in the podcast, would be relevant links to course notes, web resources or even to further podcasts of a lab demonstration etc. Virtual Tours will also be created of existing research project work. Annotated podcasts with interactive links to design documents, presentations slides, literature repository, numerical models and computer code etc. will be created. This would be an invaluable resource for the incoming student to get “up to speed” with the project.

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