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Skills development in the curriculum

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Slides from a talk given at the University of Dundee describing a series of activities used at the University of Leicester to promote skills development amongst (medical) bioscience students.

Slides from a talk given at the University of Dundee describing a series of activities used at the University of Leicester to promote skills development amongst (medical) bioscience students.
www.lefthandedbiochemist.wordpress.com

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Skills development in the curriculum Presentation Transcript

  • 1. Dundee May 2010 Putting skills development into the curriculum (without boring everyone to tears): some practical ideas Dr Chris Willmott Dept of Biochemistry, University of Leicester cjrw2@le.ac.uk University of Leicester http://tinyurl.com/bored10
  • 2. Introduction • skills development: school or university? • uni: deepening basic skills, introducing specialist • “we‟ve done this before” • emphasising relevance and context • doing v describing v deconstructing? http://tinyurl.com/juggler10
  • 3. http://tinyurl.com/students10 Context • Activities all developed initially for use in Year 1 (of 3) module 2000-2009 = Key Skills 2009-2010 = Introduction to Medical Bioscience • Medical-related courses (Med Biochem, Med Gen, Med Phys) • n = various, but latterly approx 100
  • 4. Content • Plagiarism awareness and avoidance • Essay writing • Information literacy • Experimental design • Scientific reports http://tinyurl.com/boredbaby10
  • 5. Plagiarism avoidance • Deliberate or accidental reproduction of somebody else‟s work as your own • “On the increase” • Internet as a source • Cut and paste • Prevention better than cure, better than confirmation of guilt Nick Newman
  • 6. Plagiarism avoidance • Many students are “accidental” plagiarists: - Not understanding the rules - Not enough time (poor time-keeping, overchoice) - Poor study skills See also Gill Chester (2001) http://tinyurl.com/chester2001
  • 7. Plagiarism avoidance • To distinguish between appropriate and inappropriate uses of source materials • To encourage good study skills, and referencing practice, as a safeguard against accidental plagiarism
  • 8. Plagiarism avoidance • Students are presented with seven versions of an „essay‟ extract as well as the original source material • Asked individually, then in groups, to consider which are guilty of plagiarism • Tutor-led discussion of appropriate and inappropriate use, leading into practical tips on avoidance of accidental plagiarism Willmott CJR and Harrison TM (2003) An exercise to teach students about plagiarism Journal of Biological Education 37:139-140
  • 9. Plagiarism avoidance
  • 10. Plagiarism avoidance • Session also involves: - advice on good note-taking practice - advice on referencing - warning re Turnitin
  • 11. Plagiarism avoidance • Original activity adapted by Stuart Johnson into self-directed tutorial using Adobe Presenter • “Don‟t Cheat Yourself” now uses different example for Bioscientists http://tinyurl.com/ plagiarism-biology • now also 16 other subjects http://tinyurl.com/ plagiarismtutorials
  • 12. http://tinyurl.com/essayhand10 Essay writing • Essay writing remains a cornerstone of assessment • Students may have received little specific guidance or feedback on exam essays: - tend to take place at or near end of module - reticence re haggling for marks? • Rare opportunity to see genuine work produced by other students
  • 13. Essay writing • Activity involving three phases: • Stage 1: students peer-review genuine exam essays written by previous cohort • Stage 2: write essay under exam conditions • Stage 3: peer-mark each other‟s essays Willmott C (2007) „You have 45 minutes, starting from now‟: helping students develop their exam essay skills Bioscience Education E-journal 9-C2
  • 14. Essay writing: Stage 1 • Students read set of exam essays • In groups, rank answers according to formal marking criteria • Each group reports back on ranking, these are compared with „real‟ order • Tutor-led discussion on strengths and weaknesses • Other advice on exam technique
  • 15. Essay writing: Stage 1 - issues • Number and range of essays? - six = a good number - less = insufficient spread of quality - more = take too long, distinctions becomes subtle • Handwritten or typed? - handwritten - layout and legibility as learning outcome - photocopy once, remove marker‟s comments (but record elsewhere), re-photocopy
  • 16. Essay writing: Stage 1 - issues • Right to use previous students‟ essays? - initially with essays from archive - collected permission from cohort and used their essays - institutional policy on students‟ IPR?
  • 17. Essay writing: Stage 2 • Students plan essay on specified topic • One week later • 45 minutes, exam conditions • Formal exam booklets • Candidate numbers only (nb peer-marking) • Extra MPH for dyslexics etc http://tinyurl.com/independentessay
  • 18. Essay writing: Stage 3 • Peer-evaluation of essays • Tutor-led discussion of key issues & common errors • Essays distributed to groups (not their own) • 45 mins to read and offer feedback on as many as possible • No writing on script, feedback accumulated on sheet of coloured paper circulated with essay • Essays collected back in and passed to tutor team for summative marking • Returned with peer and tutor feedback Willmott C (2007) „You have 45 minutes, starting from now‟: helping students develop their exam essay skills Bioscience Education E-journal 9-C2
  • 19. Information literacy: ‘Goggle’ • Problem these days not finding information it is sifting and evaluating sources • Almost certainly start with regular search engine • Purpose-made “Google search” • Theme = mitochondria • Selected order and genre of source material • Students fill in online form, completed form e-mailed to them, data collated http://tinyurl.com/searchtool10
  • 20. Information literacy: ‘Goggle’
  • 21. Information literacy: ‘Goggle’ • Asked to score each source for “academic quality” • Asked to think about appropriateness of using each source for two different tasks: - first year essay on role of mitochondria in energy production - final year dissertation on mitochondria & ageing • Appropriateness in terms of: - Authority for task - Relevance for task • Tension: time v breadth - initially 10 sources, now 8
  • 22. Information literacy: ‘Goggle’ • Sources: - online copy Alberts et al Mol Biology of the Cell - Wikipedia - essay from essay bank - review from Cell (on ageing) - review from Annual Reviews (on protein import) - educational website - news report - online video (TED)
  • 23. Information literacy: ‘Goggle’ • Organisation of session: - need minimum of 60 mins, 90 mins better - alternatively students pre-complete individual evaluation of sources then meet with tutor for hour to discuss • Issue relating to name, considering alternatives
  • 24. Experimental design • QAA Benchmarking statements (2007, p2): “students should develop competence in comparing the merits of alternative hypotheses and receive guidance in terms of how to construct experiments or to make observations to challenge them” • 50 minute introductory session: Can you smell fear?
  • 25. Experimental design • Can you smell fear? 1. Example of inadequately designed experiment Video: Brainiac Science Abuse 2. What was good? What might have been better? 3. Example of appropriate experiment Peer-reviewed study: Prehn-Kristensen et al (2009) PLoS ONE
  • 26. Experimental design Brainiac Science Abuse: The Smell of Fear Sky1, 07:00, 28th January 2009 (http://tinyurl.com/brainiacfear)
  • 27. Scientific reports • Research papers are the principal means of communication within the science community • Skills necessary for critiquing and/or writing reports do not arise routinely in other activities • Final year projects are written in the style of scientific reports, but practical work does not necessarily develop those skills Session Task Session Task Session Task 1 1 2 2 3 3 Willmott CJR, Clark RP and Harrison TM (2003) Introducing undergraduate students to scientific reports Bioscience Education 1-10
  • 28. Scientific reports: Session 1 • Buzzgroups discuss names and purpose of sections in a research paper, followed by tutor-led discussion • Students consider strengths and weaknesses of three versions of an Abstract (Kirkman) • Set Task 1 Malmfors et al (2000)
  • 29. Scientific reports: Task 1 • Reading a primary research paper • Students answer series of questions to guide them through article • Culminates in writing an Abstract for paper • Formative assessment • Which article?
  • 30. Scientific reports: Task 1 • Which article? • Contemporary papers frequently jargon-rich and impenetrable • “There is no form of prose more difficult to understand and more tedious to read than the average scientific paper“ Francis Crick (1994) http://tinyurl.com/crick10
  • 31. Scientific reports
  • 32. Scientific reports
  • 33. Scientific reports: Session 2 • Review of abstract-writing task • Introduction to next activity, writing-up an expt on lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) as though own data • Tension: problem writing up v problem understanding • Evolved into 3 stages: – outline of scientific question – data from one approach distributed & discussed – first draft brought to further discussion on data handling
  • 34. Scientific reports • Formative feeback via 10 minute 1-2-1 tutorial • Plenary session: introduction to, and discussion of, second experiment (genetic basis of colour blindness) • Students write-up a report of second experiment using provided data • Summative assessment (25% of module)
  • 35. Acknowledgements Tim Harrison Stuart Johnson Richard Clark Jo Badge
  • 36. References Willmott CJR and Harrison TM (2003) An exercise to teach students about plagiarism Journal of Biological Education 37:139-140 Willmott CJR, Clark RP and Harrison TM (2003) Introducing undergraduate students to scientific reports Bioscience Education E-journal 1-10 Willmott C (2007) „You have 45 minutes, starting from now‟: helping students develop their exam essay skills Bioscience Education E-journal 9-C2 Willmott C (submitted, 2010) Introduction to experimental design: can you smell fear? Johnson S, Badge J and Willmott C (in preparation)
  • 37. Thank you E-mail: cjrw2@le.ac.uk Twitter: cjrw Slideshare: cjrw2 Delicious: chriswillmott Blogs: www.bioethicsbytes.wordpress.com www.biosciencecareers.wordpress.com www.lefthandedbiochemist.wordpress.com University of Leicester
  • 38. Plagiarism avoidance: Evaluation • “Before the session I had no idea about the rules on plagiarism” • “The problem of plagiarism was made clear and we were taught how to avoid its use (sic)” Willmott CJR and Harrison TM (2003) An exercise to teach students about plagiarism Journal of Biological Education 37:139-140
  • 39. Essay writing: Evaluation • “I liked this module very much… going over past exam essays really showed what to do and what not to do” • “It gave me ideas how to improve my essay style as I could see where others had gone wrong” • “Got a chance to see others work, realised how annoying some people‟s work is to mark so I could change my style accordingly” • It highlighted the importance of a plan when structuring exam essays” • “It was useful to look at other people‟s work and the way in which exam papers are marked” • “I noticed that a long essay doesn‟t mean a good essay” Willmott C (2007) „You have 45 minutes, starting from now‟: helping students develop their exam essay skills Bioscience Education E-journal 9-C2
  • 40. Scientific literacy: Evaluation • “Learnt a lot about the different varieties of source available, were never told at school or sixth form about this sort of stuff” • “Made us think about the suitability of using sources in our essays” • “It helped on how to filter out large amounts of information that come up when you search” • “This showed me many different types of search result that I was not previously aware of” • “The activity was interesting and the feedback was very helpful when deciding which sources to use” • “It made me more aware that not all information on the internet is true” Johnson, Badge and Willmott (in preparation)
  • 41. Experimental design: Evaluation • Likert scale (n = 16) : 1 = strongly disagree, 5 = strongly agree “I enjoyed the session on experimental design” 4.44 “I found the session on experimental design useful” 4.25 Willmott C (submitted, 2010) „Introduction to experimental design: can you smell fear?‟
  • 42. Experimental design: Evaluation • “The experiment presented was really entertaining. The task of coming up with a more effective experiment was stimulating” • “The set up - looking at a particular experiment, discussing among ourselves faults and then discussing as a group the experiment design was good” • “It described an experiment that was carried out (not the Hammond experiment but the sweat-collecting experiment) which was complex and professional. This will help to think about future experiments that us as students may like to carry out” • “It worked very well, and engaged everyone instead of just talking about how to set up a good study” Willmott C (submitted, 2010) „Introduction to experimental design: can you smell fear?‟
  • 43. Scientific reports: Evaluation • Session 1: “I had never seen a scientific report before” • “Information about scientific report writing was useful. Group involvement made session interesting” • Session 2: “Introduction to report was fun and in depth and made everyone take part instead of feeling left out and bored” • “Didn‟t no [sic] how to write a report before” • 1-2-1 session: “Extremely important and very useful. It just picked up on the small areas in report writing that you, as an individual needed to work on” • “This was most useful as we got to see where we were going wrong and ways to improve our work” Willmott CJR, Clark RP and Harrison TM (2003) Introducing undergraduate students to scientific reports Bioscience Education 1-10