Tag Archives: iCMA

The Story of S155 Scientific Investigations…

I know some people are going to disagree with what I’m going to say about this course but these are my opinions on it.

First of all S155 Scientific Investigations is an online course, I think this threw some people at the start as they were expecting a delivery with books etc but all we got was a few sheets of paper, a mug mat and some PH paper, that was it.  All the “books” were online and were called “Good experiments guide” and was in three parts.  During the course we had to do 5 experiments and an online field study. This was also the first course where I had taken part in Elluminate sessions so they were quite interesting aswell.

First of all, the reading material…

The “Good Experiments Guide” is split into 3 parts and in the region of 30 printed pages per part, its designed to be looked at onscreen but most people didn’t like this so printed it out. The reading itself isn’t too hard and each part can be polished off in a few hours.  Part 1 starts on week 1, part 2 in week 4 and part 3 around week 6, so there is plenty of time to get the reading done.

The experiments…

As this is about scientific investigation there are of course some experiments to do.  We had 5 in total, Mug mats, sound perception, reaction times, investigating soil an experiment on seeds that will determine what EMA you will do.  The first 3 are very easy to do and don’t require any equipment the last 2 are a little harder and do require some bits and pieces like plastic bottles, tin cans and other easy gotten equipment.

The hardest bit of all the experiment is working with the other students, at the start you will be assigned a group with about 12 other students and you will work within your own group forum and discuss things like how to do experiments, any problems and your results.  This may sound easy and in my group I can say we had good discussions but I have heard about many people not liking this aspect of the course. They say that due to only getting online once or twice a week they felt left out and constantly behind in the decisions about experiments.

The experiments themselves are presented online but again can be printed out, there is also some videos to watch on some of the experiments.

The online field study was the dullest part of the course, it was about lichen on a coast line and included video, photo and reading material. The subject just didn’t appeal to me to I felt very board in doing it. Also people also found it very hard to distinguish between the different lichens in the photographs.

The Elluminate sessions…

This was the first I had used these and they were fun to do, if you have never seen or heard of them chances are you will over the next few years as I think the OU will be leaning towards these more than providing face to face tutorials. It’s like a chat room but as well as just typing you can use your microphone and webcam, if you want to.  I attended 3 in total, the tutor will do most of the speaking and asking questions and you can then give thumbs up or down to agree or disagree. I didn’t talk or do the webcam but did type a few questions or responses to questions.

The EMA…

During the course you will do 3 iCMA’s but these are only practice ones and will have no bearing on your result at the end of the course. They are there to let you get used to the type of questions that will be asked on the EMA.

Now I have been used to doing iCMA’s with S104 and S151, but a lot of the questions were a little vague on what they are asking, for example you may be asked a question and some of the answers are very similar, just worded slightly different.  Asking in the forums a good few people found this and it was a little frustrating. However the questions in the EMA weren’t as vague so in the end it didn’t really make a big difference.

On the website you will see five different EMA’s listed but you will only do 1 of them and this will be determined by what decisions are made by your group in the final seeds experiment. Once you have posted your results for this experiment you will then be given access to the EMA, so make sure you leave yourself enough time to complete both before the cut off date.

Verdict on S155 Scientific Investigations…

All in I found it an easy enough 10pt course with a few niggles but nothing majorly wrong with it. I had 110pts at level 1 under my belt when starting it so have a good knowledge of how things work, but if your new it may take a little more time to find your way around the site.

Remember that this is a 10pt course over 10 weeks so this means it’s on the same power as a standard 30pt course that is over 6 – 9 months, don’t be thinking this will be an easy 10pts without having to put in much work.

I know some people will disagree with me on all this but I didn’t find the course that big a deal, a few dull tedious bits but nothing that made me feel bad about the course, I actually enjoyed most of it and would say there is nothing to dread about it.

My recommendations…

The reading material is interesting and not to intense but be prepared to print out the pages and remember this may cost a few quid in ink.

The experiments will need so equipment so look at this list when the site opens and be prepared to find and buy some stuff, again it may cost a few quid but nothing too bad.

Over the course I probably spent £10-£15 on different things for the course including printing.

The forums may be a bit hit or miss but make sure you go in a few times a week and spend half an hour looking and responding to other peoples comments. This is a part of the course you will need to pass, if you don’t participate in these conversations you will fail. Now when it says participate I don’t know if it means 2 or 3 posts over the course or 2 or 3 posts per week so I will leave it up to you to decide. I was posting a few times per week or even a few times per day on some discussions, so be prepared for this. On the other side of this if no one else is taking part in discussions but you are at least trying to I doubt you will be marked down for this.

The EMA is easy enough, just make sure you do the practice ones and double check every question a few times before entering your answer. You will be surprised at how many silly mistakes you pick up doing this.  You can roughly calculate your score as you go along for example mine had 21 questions so 100 / 21 = 4.7% so for every question correct on 1st attempt will be 4.75%. 2nd attempt is about 2/3 the marks and 3rd attempt 1/3 the marks, So..

1st = 4.7%, 2nd = 3.1%, 3rd = 1.6%

These are all ball park figures and my opinions of how they are marked so don’t take this a gospel.  Using this way a got a figure close to what appeared in my grade book just after the course finished.

And remember you need to get over 40% in the EMA but also show that you participated and made a contribution in the forums.

I hope this helps people out there who are thinking about taking the course and if you have already taken it please feel free to comment on how you felt it was.

Other reviews on this course can be found here in the S155 reviews section


Filed under BSc (Honours) Natural Sciences B64, Course Reviews, S155: Scientific investigations

Final iCMA result for S104

I got my final iCMA result for S104 and im well happy with it. After expecting 84% it turns out I got 88%, even though it wont make any real difference to my final result im happy it wasnt lower than I expected.  So now I can get my final OCAS result of 85.13% so that has me in the distinction area.

Now I just have to wait another month for my final result. I still don’t think it will be over 85% but you never know, I have had stranger from this course so we will wait and see.


Filed under BSc (Honours) Natural Sciences B64, S104: Exploring Science

iCMA43 Result, not as bad as expected.

I got my iCMA result yesterday and for S104 and it wasnt as bad as expected, 63% so slightly over what I expected.  The average according to the grade book was 74% so still well below but happy enough at it.

This now brings me to 15.1% out of 20%, so overall 75.5% down slightly from 76.88%. Hopefuly the TMA3 result will bring it up again.

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Filed under BSc (Honours) Natural Sciences B64, S104: Exploring Science

iCMA43 for S104 is now submitted

I filled in my answers for iCMA43 for S104 at the weekend and ended up really pissed off with myself.  On 2 questions I had written the wrong figures down so got them wrong first time and a few other silly mistakes. In the end i only got 4 correct on attempt 1, 2 on the 2nd attempt, 3 on the 3rd and 1 incorrect. So over all I would assume a result of 50%-60% will be on the cards for it. Not happy but at least this iCMA is only 2% of result.

Time for the finishing touches to TMA03.

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Filed under BSc (Honours) Natural Sciences B64, S104: Exploring Science

Results for TMA02 and iCMA 42 in S104

So my results have been posted for my TMA and iCMA in S104 Exploring Science. Well the iCMA was in about a week ago but wanted to post them both together.

Firstly the iCMA, I got 93% in this one. This was expected with getting 8 out of 10 correct in the first go, so im happy with that. This iCMA was worth 2% so every little helps.

Next is the TMA. I was hoping for around the 80% mark, I felt I had put more work into this one but I had to rush it a little due to the holiday. In the end I got a 74%. I was disappointed with this to start off with but in reading the S104 Facebook group postings, a lot of people found it harder than the first one. Some of it was silly mistakes but one or two were just me not picking it up correctly. 

Anyway these results now put me at 13.84% out of 18%, so 76.88%

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Filed under BSc (Honours) Natural Sciences B64, S104: Exploring Science

TMA02 and iCMA42 for S104 are in.

Since I was heading off on holidays to Boston for a week on the 18th Nov I had to get my skates on and get my second set of tests in. 

This time I was a lot more carefull with my iCMA and managed to get 8 of the 10 questions in the first attempt and the other 2 in the second, so I was happy with that.

This TMA was harder than the first one, it all looked straight forward enough but when I actually sat down to do it I was more time-consuming than I first thought. It was 5 questions in total each concentrating on its own part of the book.  The last question was on how i thought I was doing in the course and what I could improve on, I thought this kind of strange getting points for this 8% i think it was.

Anyway there both in and im off on holiday :)

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Filed under BSc (Honours) Natural Sciences B64, S104: Exploring Science

S104 TMA01 & iCMA41 Results

Since im a little behind with these im not going to go into too much detail. I got my results for TMA01 and iCMA41 for S104 Exploring Science.

First was iCMA41 result, 63% this was much lower than I was wanting but in doing the iCMA I made a few silly mistakes. The main reason for this was it was the first ever one that I have done and with a mixture of thinking, ‘multiple choice, these will be easy’ and making silly mistakes typing answers in. At least on the plus side this is only worth 1% of the result so the damage is only tiny.

Next was TMA01 with a result of 79%, this was around what I was hoping for. My target is to get aroung 80% on all these tests so I wasnt that far off it. Again there was a few silly mistakes on this one but atleast my tutor was leinent on me for them. Im sure they usualy are at the start just to give you a bit of breathing space.

So with these two results I was sitting with around 4.5% out of 6%, around 75% mark.


Filed under BSc (Honours) Natural Sciences B64, S104: Exploring Science

First TMA and iCMA done for S104

I did my first ever iCMA yesterday for S104: Exploring Science ( iCMA41 )and it was harder than I was expecting.  On first look it looks as if its like a simple multiple choice question, but some of it can be tricky. Most questions you get 3 attempts at them, on 2 of the questions I got all 3 tries incorrect.  On some of the others I got it correct on the 2nd or 3rd attempt and a few on the 1st. One good this is that this iCMA is only worth 1% of my over all result so no real damage done.

I have also finished and submitted TMA01 today. It was a little different from the ones I was used to with DB123, with one big plus being there was no easy question. It was 4 different questions with lots of sub questions, some needing a few words, some needing a few sentences and 2 needing 300-400 words. Over all took a little longer than I thought but was fun and I have to say more interesting than the TMSA’s for DB123. So it’s submitted and hopefully get a result for the weekend, cut of date is the 28th.

The rain gauge experiment is also finished, I managed to get 2 weeks worth of data and wrote my experiment up. One problem was one day were the reading of the water wend down due to evaporation, I put this down as a 0mm instead of a -1mm reading so it will be interesting to see if its correct. From what I can see the experiment makes up part of TMA02 so may need to do more on it.

Speaking of TMA02 its only about 4 weeks away and since im in Boston over the dates I have to get it in early, it’s the same for iCMA42 so that could be fun. Anyway I have to get cracking with Book 2 ‘Earth and Space’ now and hopefully get a little ahead over the next week, just  to take a bit of pressure off. I’m beginning to see what people mean about it being constant and full on, but it is a lot more enjoyable than other courses.

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Filed under Experiments, S104: Exploring Science