Using online resources to engage students with laboratory-based teaching
Nigel Francis Senior Lecturer
Swansea University Medical School
Ed Dudley, Claire Morgan, Owen Bodger, Iain Thistlethwaite, Neville Agar and John Eastman
Biochemistry is a discipline that requires high levels of competence in basic practical skills in order to carry out experiments accurately and safely. Studies have shown that some students struggle to make the transition from school to the first year of university and this can result in a distinct lack of preparation from students prior to attending practical classes, with many arriving at the session having not looked at the schedule and with no idea of what experiment that are going to be carrying out during the class. As a result of this the enthusiasm of the students for carrying out practical assignments can be reduced as they often see these sessions solely as an exercise of following the pro-forma, rather than engaging with the underlying scientific theory. Evidence suggests that student engagement and performance can be positively impacted through computer-based learning, increasing their understanding of the work being undertaken. In this study we trialled a new interactive eLearning resource from Learning Science across three modules of our level 4 Biochemistry and Genetics programme. The resources were made available to 174 students with 96 students making use of one or more of the simulations. In contrast to other studies there was no significant difference in overall marks between students who engaged with the eLearning resources, however, a focus group questionnaire revealed that those students that had made use of the resources felt more confident in carrying out the experiments and had a better understanding of the theoretical basis of the class. Although it appears that using interactive media does not impact overall outcomes, it is a valuable tool in engaging students and helping them transition from school to higher education, maximising enjoyment from laboratory based classes.
One or more of the academics involved with the study will be present at the poster stand to engage with delegates and answer any questions. A laptop with one of the eLearning simulations will be available to demonstrate the type of software used.
eLearning, Practical Engagement, HE Transition
eLearning prior to laboratory based classes can increase student engagement and provides them with a better learning experience