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Enhanced engagement in the undergraduate laboratory practical experience

Cain, A; SHEPHARD, E; (2011) Enhanced engagement in the undergraduate laboratory practical experience. In: (Proceedings) Effective Learning in the Biosciences. Equipping students for the 21st Century. : UK.

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Abstract

Our aims are to: Improve the level of undergraduate student preparation for laboratory practicals; Engage students in the appreciation of the numerical skills needed to prepare chemical reagents and design effective assays; Identify areas of weakness in experimental comprehension and numeracy and respond with increased support. Online pre-practical quizzes, hosted in the Moodle virtual learning environment, were devised to assist students in their comprehension of a laboratory exercise. Questions relate to background, experimental process and numeracy associated with each practical. Each quiz has to be completed at least an hour prior to the start of the session. This is monitored through Moodle submissions. Participation in a quiz is compulsory and a pass mark of above 60% is required. Support for background and experimental process is provided in the course materials. Support for numeracy is provided in the form of worked examples and practice quizzes provided online. Answers to numerical questions are posted on the course Moodle site after the practical has begun. The quizzes provide the students the ability to assess their own knowledge, to engage better in the laboratory practical and have greater confidence in experimental manipulations. The continued practice of numeracy and its application has demonstrated greater knowledge retention as evidenced by exam performance in numerical exercises. The initial project concentrated on year 2 Life Science students. The improved performance encouraged us to extend this practice to year 1 and other Departments and Faculties have now adopted pre-practical testing using an online environment. An ongoing aspect of this project is the transferability of improved numerical skills to year 3 research projects. A crucial aspect is for staff to quickly identify problem areas in comprehension of experimental process and numeracy and to reflect and respond by providing appropriate additional support materials. This reflective element is ongoing with each cohort.

Type: Proceedings paper
Title: Enhanced engagement in the undergraduate laboratory practical experience
Event: Effective Learning in the Biosciences. Equipping students for the 21st Century
Location: Edinburgh, UK
Dates: 30 June 2011 - 01 July 2011
ISBN-13: 978-0-9569288-2-5
Keywords: numeracy, laboratory class
UCL classification: UCL > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences
UCL > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Biosciences (Division of) > Structural and Molecular Biology
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1316644
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