During vacations, the University Library hosts visits for groups of local school students working towards their Extended Project Qualification (EPQ). Over the inter-semester break we met with around 70 students from three local schools. One of these was a link school with the University – Library staff work closely with the Widening Participation Office and deliver information skills training to link schools as well as offering EPQ support.
What is the EPQ?
The EPQ is an optional qualification for gaining UCAS points, equivalent to half an A-level. Its focus is on developing “independent research and project management” skills, which are highly valued by both employers and educators. Students formulate their own research topic and are challenged to “research, critically select, organise and use information” from different sources. The Library is well-placed to provide access to both academic resources and to training that helps prepare the students not only for completing the project, but for independent study in Higher Education.
Students need assistance with research skills
In many cases, secondary schools, sixth forms and colleges have limited access to online scholarly materials, or none at all. By year 13, aged 17-18, some students have received little preparation for using academic resources, or the knowledge to assess freely available online information effectively. Students studying the EPQ who have access to, and make use of, academic libraries receive valuable information literacy training that gives them a head start.
Here at Bath, we deliver a research skills workshop to EPQ students. This is either in the form of short videos that prepare the students in advance of their visit or through a computer-based research workshop in the Library. The workshop or video tutorial enables students to develop techniques to select and assess material for their project. Whether the students go on to further education or not, having these skills is useful for their future employability and a highly relevant life skill in the era of ‘fake news’.
Feedback from visits
“Thank you very much to you and all your other colleagues for making it possible for our students to visit the University Library yesterday. It was a very valuable experience for them. Many found useful information sources for their EPQ and in addition, it was a chance for them to see the University at first hand. My colleagues, the students and I really appreciated the welcome and the practical assistance you gave us.” School Librarian
“Just a quick line to say thank you for looking after us so well yesterday. All students came away with resources and leads of direct relevance to their projects, and it was great to see them getting the experience of being treated as adults in such a setting – I’m sure a number will feel more confident about researching in a university as a result.” School EPQ Co-ordinator
For more information on school and college visits to the University of Bath Library please contact Emma Stuart Edwards (email@example.com).
AQA (2015)a. Why choose this specification? [online]. Available from: http://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/projects/aqa-certificate/EPQ-7993/why-choose [Accessed 31st Jan 2017].
AQA (2015)b. Level 3 Extended Project Qualification [online]. Available from: http://filestore.aqa.org.uk/subjects/AQA-W-7993-SP-15.PDF [Accessed 31st Jan 2017].
Photos with permission from the students of Hayesfield Girls’ School and Mixed Sixth Form.