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This project aimed to improve the laboratory learning experience for undergraduate science students, focusing initially on first and third year cohorts, through specific objectives. Firstly, to incorporate novel teaching and assessment methods, including student led laboratories, in- house produced instructional videos, “Clickers” audience response devices, and pre-practical on-line multiple choice questionnaires (MCQ) assessments. Secondly, to develop timely feedback mechanisms, including peer review, tutor face-to-face and audio feedback, online automatic feedback, and report checklists. Finally, to embed transferable skills into the laboratory including group work, communication skills (written and oral), organisation and project planning, health and safety, and preparedness for laboratories, final year projects and placement.
Pedagogical evaluation was through anonymous MCQ and independent academic facilitated discussion forums. The main benefits were students who are better prepared, both for basic undergraduate laboratories and for independent research-based final year projects; continuity in the development of transferable skills; improved assessment quality through constructive alignment and appropriate feedback; and improved student satisfaction though engagement and feedback. The key recommendations arising from this are study are: to encourage preparedness for practical sessions; harnessing technology to engage students through interesting pre-practical activities; to encourage an improved culture of feedback, including mechanisms such as podcasts, which also “feed-forward”; and to encourage a culture where value is added to modules by actively incorporating transferable skills into all student activities and assessments rather than a “bolt on” approach.
Dunne, Julie and Ryan, Barry, "Improving the Undergraduate Laboratory Learning Experience Through Redesigned Teaching and Assessment Strategies Integrating Transferable Skills and Focusing on Feedback." (2010). Teaching Fellowships. 21.