Slide 1 - Learning & Teaching Support

tastelesscowcreekBiotechnology

Oct 4, 2013 (3 years and 10 months ago)

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Innovations in biochemistry
teaching


a new approach to
course design and delivery


Sue R Whittle

Faculty of Biological Sciences


On behalf of the Biochemistry Level 1 Programme Team:

Alan Berry, David Brockwell, Mark Parsons Peter Stockley, & Sue Whittle


Courses are like gardens



They start off with carefully
chosen, neatly arranged
components

Then they grow…

You plant a bit….

Prune a bit ….

Time passes….

Then one day you realise it’s
no longer quite as you had
planned …….

Biochemistry

; lectures, practical skills, data handling, problem
solving, essay writing, oral presentation

40 credits

Chemistry for biologists :
lectures 10 credits

Structural & physical
Biochemistry: lectures,
tutorials,
practicals

.

20 credits

IT & numerical skills (largely on
-
line) 10 credits

Subject
-
related Options

20 credits

Subject
-
related Options

20 credits


BSc Biochemistry Year 1 2008
-
2009


Fragmented knowledge, with students finding it hard to integrate the
information obtained in different modules.



A number of poorly performing students, leading to fails in key modules,
and a number of students who passed these modules mainly on the basis
of coursework marks, with poor examination scores and who subsequently
struggled at Level 2.



Poor performance in general on written examination questions, and to a
lesser extent questions requiring data analysis and interpretation, both at
Level 1 and beyond.



Limited practical skill development, leading to difficulties for students who
undertook laboratory
-
based project in their final year.

Issues identified with the course

Aspirations for the new course


Focus our students on biochemistry



More research led teaching


increase advanced topics in final
year



Improve effective use of technology



Opportunities to stretch the brightest students

Others undertaking redesign of courses?


Reasons for this?

Tackling the redesign process


Focusing on subject knowledge



Bespoke course for BSc
Biochemistry


Chemistry to be integrated
into biochemistry teaching


Single lecture
-
based module
to allow better integration



Include some Y2 material in
Year 1



Focusing on skills



Limit the number of skills
practiced in Year 1


Data handling


bespoke
module


Practical skills


bespoke
module


Exam answer writing



Recognise changes to student
skills on entry

Tackling the redesign process

Focussing on student engagement and performance




small group teaching for exam answer writing and data
handling


More laboratory time, more emphasis on developing
practical skills


‘Research highlights’ lectures


how subject knowledge
is used



Use of interactive technology


Response handsets,
interactive materials on VLE




Separate assessment of knowledge, practical and data
handling skills

Biochemistry; lectures, exam answer

writing.

60 credits


Options 20 credits


Practical skills

20 credits


Data handling, numerical

skills 20 credits


BSc Biochemistry Year 1 2009
-
2010

Others undertaking redesign of courses?


Similar or different approaches?

One swallow ……
Preliminary
outcomes

20.0
30.0
40.0
50.0
60.0
70.0
80.0
90.0
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
Y1 average %

Y1 cohort performance 2008
-
10

2007-8
2008-9
2009-10
No student failed any biochemistry module

Exam

component
mark

Multiple
response
questions (%)

Data handling
(%)

Essay

answers

(%)

2006
-
7

55.2

45.9

44.7

2007
-
8

52.3

59.4

41.6

2008
-
9

53.3

50.4

44.7

Average

‘old course’

53.6

51.9

43.7

2009
-
10

63.1

61.5

57.2

Significant improvement in assessment scores
-

particularly for exam essay component

Student feedback was largely positive



“I appreciated the different aspects of the course being run so that information
learned in lectures was backed up by
practicals

or in essay writing”.


“The e
-
clicker questions during lectures are a very efficient way to just check
your knowledge and make sure that students understand well what the lecture
is about”.


[Data handling tutorials ]…. “A more personal learning opportunity”.



“I love [the] lab, it was well organised and pitched at about the right level”

Some areas for improvement identified



“the amount of information learnt in the first term was
overwhelming”


“The bioinformatics lectures were too difficult perhaps to
understand. I thought that the whole subject was introduced in
the right manner but then went on into too much detail for a
first year student”


“More time should be allowed to work through problems or
additional time outside of the tutorial as some members of the
group grasp certain questions easier than others”

Others’ experiences of their new courses?


What went well? What did you need to change?