Facility for Analysis Characterisation Testing & Simulation
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OMNI - Methodology and Testing



The OMNI Program for teaching the theory and practice of materials characterisation is designed to fully exploit metacognition - the process of self-monitored learning.  OMNI learners will:

  • implement and enhance their preferred learning strategies;
  • assess their progress by answering self-assessment questions and determine the degree to which the instruction meet their needs; and
  • develop remedial strategies such as re-reading instructional information and seeking additional source material.


University students want to answer the question - Am I getting this? - and through self-evaluation students can change their learning strategies to gain confidence that they understand and can apply the new knowledge.  For some repetition is critical; others learn best by just diving in and trying a task; and many rely heavily on visual inputs.  OMNI provides the scaffolding to support a range of learning styles.  It is a self-paced and technology-based training program that will allow most students to master microscopic, analytical and crystallographic techniques sufficiently to complete a final year project or thesis in an accelerated timeframe.


Multiple Choice Question Sets


Multiple choice question sets assist learners to either feel confident that they understand the subject matter or to recognize that they need to re-visit the content.  For advanced undergraduate students, graduate students, and professional engineers and scientists the tests are taken as many times as needed to ensure the principles and practice of a specific technique have been mastered.


The questions are divided into Topics (e.g. SEM) and Sub-Topics (e.g. SEM – Imaging).  They are further differentiated into ‘easy’, ‘medium’ and ‘hard’ categories (e.g. SEM – Imaging – Easy).  Teachers prepare examinations by selecting questions from any combination of these categories and scaling the difficulty according to the cohort.  Questions are chosen at random from a growing pool of problems.  The tests are time limited and students can work back and forth through the questions to check their answers.


Targeted Cohorts


OMNI Modules can be used for:


Imparting Core Knowledge.  This approach is appropriate for early undergraduate students who are accumulating basic information concerning the functionality and uses of a characterisation method.


Preparing for Hands-on Training.  A perennial challenge for instructors is coping with students from a wide range of backgrounds, prior knowledge and experience.  Completion of an OMNI module ensures students have the basic understanding necessary to receive hands-on instrument training.  As students tend to complete the modules close to the time of real need, this also ensures that the instruction is delivered when the learner is most receptive.


Priming Advanced Researchers.  Graduate students and mature scientists may not need to become expert users in their own right, but from time to time must interpret data given to them or critically evaluate published results.  OMNI notes can be used to refresh their knowledge of characterisation techniques.


Trainers and Instructors


The quintessential metacognitive statements are I’ve got it! or I’m lost!.  Preliminary trials and evaluation during 2005-06 with a beta version of OMNI using in excess of 500 2nd year, 4th year and graduate student cohorts have shown generally positive overall outcomes – they did Get it! – leading to a first-stage fine tuning of the examination process.


The OMNI Program is a work in progress.  It is evolving as we gather feedback from students and teachers.  The program notes are freely available and may be reproduced.  Should you have suggestions for improvement, or detect any errors in the content please contact OMNI at facts@ntu.edu.sg.  Access to the multiple choice question sets is restricted.  Bona fide teachers can request access to a sample test, and establish a test cohort of their own students if they wish.  In the latter case, a charge per student will be levied.


Last Update: 4 Sep 2017


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