Improving access in STEM subjects

Villiers Park Educational Trust

Back to Activities with learners

Open access activities

Open access activities reach lots of people and they can be a wonderful showcase for your department or university. They can raise your profile with schools and within your local population.

Such activities may also have an impact on your target population. However, experience shows that there is often poor uptake among hard-to-reach groups.

You can increase the effectiveness of open access activities by:

  • Monitoring their impact by collecting feedback – remember to ask a question to identify responses from your target group or groups
  • Use them as one component of a more targeted programme – once you are working with a group of learners they can participate in your open access activities

What we do at Villiers Park

We invest only a small proportion of our resources into open access activities.

One example is our online extension activities. These require resources to create and establish, but as they are online the costs to keep them going are limited.

There are 200 activities across 20 subjects, including ten activities in each of Biology, Chemistry, Maths, Physics and Psychology. They are accessible from the front page of our website.

The principles behind their design are:

  • Clearly stating what they are for, which is providing extension for very able learners studying A-levels or the equivalent
  • Not designed to link to any A-level specification
  • Written by academics and researchers
  • Only require resources that are available online
  • Each follow the same pattern:
    • Short introductory film
    • Activity on a printable A4 sheet, made up of:
      • Target audience
      • Key concepts
      • The Activity
      • Background knowledge
      • Resources (all online)
      • Outcomes
      • Helpful hints
      • Going further
    • Suggested response written by the author of the activity