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Showcase: The BCT Taxonomy for students

Caroline E Wood9 May 2014

BCT Taxonomy student site logo

First, a bit of background…

Behaviour change is increasingly recognised as central to human well-being, social cohesion and sustainability – plus, with the development of the Behavioural Insights team (aka the ‘Nudge Unit’) it’s also becoming a hot topic amongst policymakers. It’s important therefore we equip the behaviour change scientists of the future i.e. our students here at UCL, with the knowledge and skills to design, implement and rigorously evaluate interventions. The behaviour change technique taxonomy v1 (BCTTv1) was developed by a Medical Research Council (MRC) funded project as a method of reporting the behaviour change techniques used in interventions. The popularity of the taxonomy prompted high demand for training in use of BCTTv1 so a face-to-face user training programme was developed.

What did we set out to do?

The aim of this project was to develop the existing face-to-face taxonomy training programme into an e-learning resource for second-year students on the BSc psychology programme. The vision was to use the resource as a ‘wrapper’ around a lecture entitled: ‘Behaviour Change Techniques’.

What we did and how we did it!

To make sure we were up to speed with the techy-bits, we attended a Moodle session led by our ELE advisors Matt Jenner and Vicki Dale. We used a combination of mind-mapping and a technique called ‘post-it process mapping’ to draw out content of our existing training materials plus any other ideas. We discussed our structure before starting to upload to Moodle. Our training materials included a series of short presentations built using Prezi with audio recordings, using a standard iPhone microphone (we considered buying a microphone however the iPhone worked just as well!), YouTube videos and multiple-choice questions (MCQs).  We started with an introductory presentation that showed students how the content of their lecture fitted in. The e-learning course was split into four sessions. Each session introduced five BCTs and finished with a MCQ mini-quiz, so students could check their progress. After session four, students could download their BCT training certificate.

Project outcomes: What we achieved

We had…some engagement from students directly after the lecture and then again – unsurprisingly – around the time their coursework was due. Several members of staff approached us as they wanted to use the resource themselves! Its helped to spark interest in the bigger, BCTTv1 online training site: www.bct-taxonomy.com and its informed development of teaching and training activities of the new Centre for Behaviour Change (CBC) at UCL. We hope to develop the resource for use as a ‘wrapper’ around a third-year option module in inter-disciplinary behaviour change running in the next academic year.

What we learned: a couple of top tips and our out-takes…

Tip 1:     We weren’t able to carry out a full quantitative evaluation as planned due to low engagement. It’s difficult to engage undergraduate students in their lecture let alone outside it! For best results, make engaging with your e-resource part of their course grade.

Tip 2:     We started small but it’s hard to create a ‘wrapper’ for one lecture. Save your strength – build for at least an option module but ideally a full course.

Check out our Prezi slides:

IntroductionSession 1, Session 2, Session 3, Session 4

Developing an online resource for UCL medical students on population screening programmes

Janina Dewitz9 May 2014

Background and aims (brief recap)

The Department of Applied Health Research (DAHR) is responsible for providing teaching on population screening to ~400 year 4 UCL MBBS students annually. Screening is a public health service which seeks to identify individuals who may be at risk of a range conditions, such as breast, cervical or colorectal cancer. We have traditionally delivered this material as face-to-face lectures, followed by small-group interactive sessions (n~35). In their feedback in 2012/13, several students suggested that the lecture material might be better delivered via a self-study module.

In response to this, we sought to redesign the teaching session for the 2013/14 academic year. We sought to create an online resource to replace the lecture to:

  • give students greater flexibility in how and when they access the course
  • make the teaching more student-centred and interactive
  • give greater relevance to students’ future medical practice
  • provide students with a revision resource to refer back to when needed
  • enable students to assess/develop their own learning.


What did we create?

We created a Moodle site, with:

  • short lecture casts
  • embedded video clips
  • practice multiple choice questions (MCQs)
  • links to relevant external resources

Students received access to the online resource two weeks before their timetabled teaching sessions in February 2014. They also received an email reminder one day beforehand, but otherwise were free to use the resource at a time and pace that suited them. On the first page of the site, we provided a link to a ‘diagnostic’ quiz – five MCQs which enabled students to assess their existing level of knowledge and identify gaps. The tabbed page layout of Moodle then enabled students to identify materials to address their personal learning needs.


How were students involved?

  1. Recently graduated junior doctors (throughout, n=3): the doctors were essential in informing the site’s shape and structure. They also contributed to several parts of the site and conducted key parts of the evaluation and consultation
  2. Video interview project with Year 6 MBBS students (September 2013, n=2): students on a Peer-Assisted Learning Module created a learning resource comprising a series of videos with doctors on the relevance of screening to their careers. They edited the videos and we uploaded them using YouTube to the Moodle site
  3. Focus groups with Years 5 and 6 MBBS students (October 2013, n=6): to understand more about the way in which they learn and the teaching methods they find best motivates them to learn and to obtain feedback on the resource in development
  4. Pilot with Years 5 and 6 MBBS students (December 2013/Jan 2014): to obtain feedback on the site in its final stages and pick up errors/glitches in functionality
  5. Feedback (n~148): all students that used the online resource and attended face to face teaching were invited to give feedback.


Did we “turn our vision into reality”?

We think so! We presented some interim finding to UCL’s Teaching and Learning Conference on 3 April 2014 [slides]

Did students use the module? ~70% of students accessed the module before the face to face teaching. We did need to send reminders though – when we didn’t, uptake was much lower.

Was it acceptable as a way of learning? Generally student feedback was more positive than last year’s lecture.

Was it an effective way of learning?? In terms of exam performance, we don’t know yet – we will look at student exam performance later in the year.

The UCL e-learning development grant was essential to us in doing this project in two major ways:

  1. It enabled us to work with undergraduate or postgraduate students at all stages of the project, in a range of different ways.
  2. It also gave us access to really useful advice and guidance on developing a Moodle site and on evaluating our project.


Reflections in the different software we used to develop the module: Hits and misses

Video editing software:

upYouTube: great for simple edits, our “go to” place for uploading films onto Moodle. Note – it didn’t suit everyone: ”I have just spent an hour wrestling with various bits of editing software, including YouTube, to clip the first few seconds and have to admit defeat – they’ve totally outfoxed me!” (Tutor)

upSerif MoviePlus (Starter and Full editions): this programme was recommended to me. There is a free version but ended up buying the full version to convert some videos into formats compatible with what we needed. It took a while to learn and I remain slow on it, but I like its flexibility and capacity to do pretty much everything I think I will need to do in relation to video editing in the future.


Screen capture software to create LectureCasts

upDebut: it was very straightforward to create videos and upload them to YouTube. Sadly once trial period lapsed, we had to move onto something else.

 updownJing: One is limited to only 5 minutes but this was long enough for most of the LectureCasts we did. Creating videos was very straightforward

downCamstudio: It was highly recommended but it crashed loads of times and I didn’t find it helpful to use at all.


Moodle analytics, to monitor site use

uprange and detail of data on student use: we could see students’ practice questions responses, when students accessed the module, which parts and for how long. All this was really useful to identify where tutors needed to focus on in face to face sessions and which parts of the module seemed most useful to students.

downdata analysis: we found it extremely laborious to extract data from Moodle on module use. In some cases (eg test results) we could download spreadsheets from Moodle but for things like when students accessed the module, this involved for us lots of cutting and pasting from pages on moodle. Has anyone figured out a less tine intensive way of doing this?


Jessica Sheringham Senior Research Associate, Dept Applied Health Research

ELDG report: 29 April 2014

Showcase: Chris Dillon

Janina Dewitz28 February 2014

Chris developed a Norwegian language wiki in 2008. It became the largest open source Norwegian language learning resource on the Internet. Its success is what inspired the current Mandarin wiki project:

Bridge to China aims to further the understanding of all aspects of the Chinese speaking world. China here is used in a very wide sense and includes mainland China, Taiwan, Singapore and anywhere else where the Mandarin language is spoken.It gives particular importance to the understanding of the modern Mandarin language.

Meet the “Bridge to China” team:

the team

Chris talked about how the ELDG money enabled him to get the wiki content developed. “Bridge to China” lives at  http://bridgetochina.org.uk and is open to anyone in the world to use.

Chris has previously blogged about his project:


ELDGs work!

Janina Dewitz29 January 2014

Things that make me happy:

Over on the twitter


I hope Matt will share more details on this blog soon!

Showcase: Antony Makrinos

Janina Dewitz17 January 2014

Antony Makrinos has been developing practice quizzes for his Greek and Latin undergrads. He gave this presentation on how he’s been getting on:

Aside from quiz building being time consuming, the biggest struggle that Antony has faced during his project was related to Greek fonts and its diacritics. Moodle isn’t very forgiving: it simply marks a missing accent as incorrect. There is the option, of course, of deploying multiple choice questions, but these aren’t as effective for learning vocabulary as actually having to recall and type out a word using the short answer question type.

Antony brought a few students along who added a virtual Greek keyboard to their e-Learning wishlist.


Ask the Audience

At the ELDG Showcase event in December we asked the audience a series of randomly drawn questions. We asked, you answered:

If you had all the money in the world, what would you develop?

  • “Virtual reality reconstruction of Pompeii & Herculaneum with information about architecture, history, lifestyle etc…”
  • “Mobile computing for all. Multimedia capture for all. Server space for all. Support for all in the use of these things. Development resource to improve and sustain open source software for the above.”
  • “A real/complete interactive tool for all undergraduates. Provide them with ‘a tablet’ that can be uploaded from a central location”
  • “Secure written online exams. Develop wizards for MyPortfolio”
  • “Online pronunciation course”
  • “Full distance learning capability; even more development on UCL eXtend so that it works like e.g. Amazon in terms of user interface and feedback”
  • “We could have a Greek virtual keyboard on the screen. Have a word box where we could pick out the Greek words from; link with texts we studied.”
  • “Tablets for all students preloaded with timetables/syllabus/course content and exam questions/assessment. Dedicated software to deliver the content of all the modules”
  • “I would set up lots of language/culture wikis aiming at world peace through mutual understanding”
  • “MOOCs”

If you weren’t at the event in December, let us know in the comments what you would develop.

Showcase: Lynsie Chew and Alan Parkinson

Janina Dewitz6 January 2014

Lynsie and Alan have been working on glossaries and quizzes for accounting students.

Here is Lynsie with an overview of the project:



Ask the Audience

At the ELDG Showcase event in December we asked the audience a series of randomly drawn questions. We asked, you answered:

Moodle would be so much better if …

  • “it had set-up wizards.”

  • “it wasn’t so cumbersome (small changes take a lot of time) and worked on tablets”

  • audio record and/or video lectures while you are delivering a powerpoint presentation which is uploaded in a moodle page”

  • “it did distance learning easily; did group submissions to turnitin; it did online interactive forms (e.g. peer evaluation) which can be posted as an assignment; if Moodle assignments let you open multiple file submissions (you currently get an error message and have to click onto a file several times to open more than one)”


If you weren’t at the event, add your own answer in the comments below this post.

Showcase: Elisabete Cidre and Alexandra Gomes

Janina Dewitz17 December 2013

Our first presenters at the ELDG Showcase event were Elisabete Cidre and her project student, Alexandra Gomes. Together they have been working on providing a video resource for urban design students. The project involved filming two London locations at various times during the year to give students an insight into what the spaces look and feel like across different seasons and in different weather/light conditions.

Here is what Elisabete and Alexandra presented: Cidre_Gomes_presentation

The videos also provide a snapshot of how the spaces are used by people:

Sloan Square

Greenwich Park

Further Greenwich videos:


Ask the Audience

At the ELDG Showcase event in December we asked the audience a series of randomly drawn questions. We asked, you answered:

When it comes to learning technologies, I am most interested in …

  • “the seeming irreconcilability of web2 and higher education assessment (and multimedia)”
  • “video based learning (within a sound pedagogical design)”
  • “Moodle enhancements”
  • “the next best thing (-: “
  • “what gets the students engaged with the subject”
  • “those which are helpful for ALL students to learn and progress in their learning”
  • “those which are helpful to ease the workload of staff involved in facilitating the students’ learning”
  • “in applications and e-learning new environments”

If you weren’t at the event, add your own answer in the comments below this post.

Bridge to China summer update

Chris J Dillon20 September 2013

Img: Starbucks Beijing Dazhalan Branch

Starbucks Beijing Dazhalan Branch

The summer has been a busy time for Bridge to China, as it was necessary to presume that the two students working on the Mandarin conversations, Binqian Cai and Ting Zhang, would not be available after the end of October.

42 of the roughly 50 conversations are now online: Bridge to China conversations


The conversations follow Mr Smith’s trip to Beijing to attend a conference and also a short return visit to UCL of the Chinese people he meets at the conference. The story is loosely based on a trip to Beijing I made in April this year, but any resemblance to people living or dead …

The conversations are colloquial and natural, and so all fall into the intermediate and advanced levels (which is not yet indicated). I’m not aware of a similar free resource (or paid one, come to think of it).

So, what now?

  • There is grammar in the conversations which was not adequately covered in the earlier voluntary grammatical work. I intend to work with students to fill these holes (which currently are filled by notes in the vocab sections).
  • I intend to work with volunteers to proofread what has been done.
  • Once the texts are finalised, I aim to get them recorded by native speakers.
  • I’m currently considering what sort of exercises it would be good to add.
  • Recently there has been some interest in adding other types of content furthering UCL-Chinese relations.
  • Help on any of these aspects gratefully received!

Incidentally, the picture is the Beijing Dazhalan Branch of 星巴克 Xīngbākè (星 xīng = star; 巴克 bākè “the sound ba + conquer” is a go at “bucks”; one presumes it wasn’t clear what bucks meant!), where we can imagine Mr Smith having his coffee in: Ordering a coffee in a café

Changing behaviour ELDG blog – Post-it mapping

Matt Jenner10 September 2013

This post was originally written by Elena, Harveen and Caroline – the team who received the ELDG grant:


BCT Taxonomy student site logo







On Thursday 29th August, Caroline Wood and her student developers, Harveen Kaur and I (Elena Panagiotopoulou) met to start thinking about mapping out content for the site. From our previous discussions and from reading this helpful e-learning blog on Articulate.com, we knew we had to carefully plan the sequence of activities that our students would be led through. At the beginning of our meeting, we used the ‘Silent Post-it technique’ to brainstorm independently on ideas about the content and what would make the site more engaging. We used post-its to write downour ideas and we then discussed them thoroughly one by one. Using the post-its, we created a flowchart in order to put the content in order:

Using 'Silent Post-it technique'

Capturing ideas – using ‘Silent Post-it technique’

Putting Post-its in order

Caroline, Harveen and Elena putting Post-its in order

As we’re all behavioural scientists on this team, we automatically started discussing how we could structure content using different behavior change techniques (BCTs) to increase the amount of time that our students want to spend on the site:

Techniques used
Set out learning objectives and outcomes of the module Setting of goals
A ‘buddy’ or character to guide students through the resource Providing social support
Series of interactive quizzes Practicing skills
Option to access resources anytime through quick links Practicing skills
Certificate available for students who complete all quizzes Positive reward
Quizzes will gradually become more difficult Graded tasks
There will be lots of examples and feedback during and after tasks Providing feedback
Positive reinforcement given throughout the tasks Support and praise
Timing! Providing an estimate of how long each task will take Setting of goals
Make the task topics relevant for students Relevant and personally useful problem solving
Building your own intervention task – something which they could build on for their 3rd year research project. Action planning for future learning
Know that their input will continue to improve this resource for them and for future students Engagement and involvement
Share with the students our journey in making this resource for them Engagement and involvement

At the end of our meeting, we had a more clear idea about the content of the site. Our next step will be to each take a section of the content and be responsible for building on Moodle.

What happens in a ‘Moodling’ session?

Caroline E Wood29 August 2013

BCT Taxonomy Student Moodle site

Designing learning activities in Moodle

On Friday 16th August, my student (Harveen Kaur) and I (Caroline Wood) met with one of our ELDG mentors (Vicki Dale) and Moodle expert Mira Vogel, E-Learning Facilitator, for a Moodling session. Mira has developed a site in Moodle for UCL users called An Elf’s Lair, and this, alongside the Moodle Features Demo by Rod Digges and colleagues, provided a focus for discussions about what is technically possible in Moodle as well as what is pedagogically advisable.

We are using Moodle to design an interactive, online resource as part of undergraduate teaching about the Behavioural Change Technique taxonomy (BCT). Students will be asked to review some introductory material on the Moodle site before exploring core theoretical foundations in two lectures. After the lecture, they will be expected to explore BCTs in action and build their skills on the Moodle site.

Mira encouraged us to think about what students will see when they first log on. As well as the site being visually stimulating and engaging, students need to be informed about learning objectives and other introductory information about how the resource fits into their programme. That is quite a lot on one page already, so we discussed how we might alternatively store some of this information as a course handbook or a downloadable file and just have the link to it available on the home page.

We also discussed different options for displaying content (text or other media) in pages, books and lessons. Pages are useful for displaying short sections of information. Books are useful for displaying information in a linear page-turning way. Lessons facilitate a non-linear experience; they can be used in the traditional ‘programmed learning’ sense where students’ progression is limited by their ability to complete tasks or questions successfully, or to offer a ‘Choose your own adventure’ experience to allow students to explore the ramifications of their actions in relation to a case simulation.

We also explored the possibility of controlled release of material in Moodle, and decided that the interactive components should be made available on the day of the lectures so that students can immediately apply theory to practice. On the Moodle site, students will be guided through a relevant example of a behaviour change intervention – the development of effective study habits. Throughout each of the exercises, students will be encouraged to revisit elements of the BCT Taxonomy framework; this will be facilitated by use of the Glossary tool.

One of our key discussions was how we could use quizzes for the interactive components. Our complete training programme, on which the Moodle site will based , involves a lot of discussion and opportunities for trainees to ask experts to explain anything they do not understand. This can be difficult to simulate online due to the fact that there are often no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answers. Although students will be able to ask questions during the lecture, detailed feedback in the online quizzes is essential to further student understanding and clarify misunderstandings during independent learning. There are several ways in which we could do this. One solution might be to incorporate graphs of student responses from a previous face-to-face workshop, so that students can compare their own answers to those of a larger cohort.

Handy tips we picked up from our session included:

  • Tip #1: The ‘Paste from Word’ icon strips out unnecessary formatting when copying content into Moodle from any of the MS Office applications.
  • Tip #2: You can switch between teacher and student views of the course by going to the settings tab on the left hand side of the screen.
  • Tip #3: We could have entries from our glossary appear on the right hand side of the main screen to highlight definitions for different BCTs in the taxonomy.

We will be experimenting with the different features in Moodle and mapping out our content over the next couple of weeks before starting to commit to particular activities. We would really welcome useful suggestions and other handy tips, so please feel free to comment on which features you have found most useful in Moodle!

We are tweeting! @UCLTaxonomy