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Technology to Promote Student Engagement
                                                        with Laboratory Practical...
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Technology to Promote Student Engagement with Laboratory Practical Classes


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This poster was presented at the e-Learning Conference "Supporting the iGeneration" hosted at the University of Ulster, Belfast in January 2009.

It describes our use of technology to deliver pre-practical assessment for year 1 bioscience students and the use of reflective videos.

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Technology to Promote Student Engagement with Laboratory Practical Classes

  1. 1. Technology to Promote Student Engagement with Laboratory Practical Classes Stephen McClean (, Olivier Riche and Paul Hagan School of Biomedical Sciences, University of Ulster, Coleraine, BT52 1SA, UK INTRODUCTION There has been recent interest in the student learning experience in laboratory classes1-3. In our experience year one bioscience students often come to chemistry laboratory sessions ill prepared and during the practical session itself give little time to reflection on the material covered. We have developed a two-track approach to counteract these issues. Firstly, an online pre-practical assessment is used to promote student engagement with the protocol and aims of the experiment before coming to the lab4. Secondly, within the laboratory session students make short reflective videos of their practical addressing key points about the experiment. These are then posted on a video sharing website (similar to ‘You Tube’) and may be viewed, commented on and rated by all the students within the module. Students have commented positively on the pre-practical assessment tool as helping them to engage better with the material. The reflective video aspect has met with a mixed response but has also been received positively by many. METHODOLOGY Pre-Practical Assessment • Students download the experiment protocol from the module website and complete a short MCQ test delivered using Tesol QuizTest ( scripts/QuizTest/). Reflective Videos • A video sharing website “” was built using Vidiscript software ( • Students register on the site and join the chemistry practical group to view or comment on videos. • Three video cameras were distributed to three groups of students for each practical session. Students record their video and reflect on how the skills gained in the key aspects of chemistry fit into their overall program of study. • Following upload students may view, comment on and rate their colleagues’ videos. EVALUATION Pre-Practical Assessment • No adverse comments were received in module evaluation and class reps commented favourably on the approach during course committees noting that they came to lab better equipped for practical work. Reflective Videos Students appeared to have mixed feelings on making videos though during staff-student meetings comments were generally positive. Some feedback comments received from students are supplied below: “I really enjoyed the experience of making a video, even though when i first heard the idea i wasnt to impressed! the youtesttube site is a great way to review practicals - its better to see it rather than reading the notes.” “I think its a great idea to have a site like this so everyone can share comments and get to know everyone in their year!” “Fantastic idea! Being able to watch the practicals shows you what you need to improve on and reminds you exactly what happened in the course of the experiment. Highly entertaining, makes you want to participate and increases REFERENCES enthusiasm towards practicals.” 1. Collis, M., Gibson, A., Hughes, I.E., Sayers, G. and Todd M. (2007) Report: The Student View of 1st Year Laboratory Work in Biosciences. CONCLUSIONS Centre for Bioscience. reports/1styearlabs.pdf This exercise was extremely useful as it stimulated 2. Collis, M., Gibson, A., Hughes, I.E., Sayers, G. and Todd M. (2008) engagement, interest and enthusiasm about a topic The Student View of 1st Year Laboratory Work in Biosciences – score that many year 1 bioscience students find difficult. It is gamma? Bioscience Education electronic Journal, volume 11. Available at interesting to note that students also found it a useful way to 11-2.htm get to know people within the group. 3. Report: 1st Year Practicals: Their Role in Developing Future The reflective video project was funded by JISC TECH DiS Bioscientists. (2008) Centre for Bioscience. Available at: http://www. and a STAR Fellowship from the University of Ulster. 4. Langton, P. Use of automated on-line quizzes as a means to engage and motivate students to prepare in advance of laboratory practical work. Available at: repforum07/langton.pdf