Proceedings of The Physiological Society

University of Cambridge (2008) Proc Physiol Soc 11, PC52

Poster Communications

Introduction of “Active Sessions” into the multi-focussed approach to teaching physiology to students lacking a science background

E. A. Sheader1, T. Speake1, T. M. Pocock1, I. Gouldsborough1

1. Faculty of Life Sciences, The University of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom.


The Year 1 Physiology for Nurses course at Manchester uses a combination of didactic teaching and investigation of clinical scenarios using enquiry-based learning (EBL). However, a significant proportion of the 250 students enrolled do not possess an A-level in Biology (38% in 2007/2008). Teaching physiology to a mixed ability cohort of students is a challenging task as they lack the fundamental concepts. The EBL approach improved student’s overall confidence and engagement in the subject area (Gouldsborough & Sheader 2006) and to further support these students, novel “active sessions” were introduced in September 2007. Active sessions were delivered on a weekly basis to 250 students in a lecture theatre environment. Different physiology based activities, e.g. bingo, crosswords, happy families; were designed to allow students to consolidate their knowledge of the topic area covered during the preceding week, assess their understanding and identify their areas of weakness. This study aims to examine staff and student perceptions of the “active sessions” and their efficacy in the multi-focussed approach to teaching physiology to first year nurses. Of the 145 respondents, the majority (59%) of students enjoyed the active sessions and 94% found they highlighted areas of weakness. 79 % felt that the active sessions integrated well within the multi-focussed approach to course delivery, supporting the notion that students valued the active sessions as they encouraged participation and forced them to take responsibility for their learning. 78% also felt that they had a good understanding of physiology on completion of the course. In addition, staff observed that these active sessions provided a balanced non-threatening environment for students to engage and learn physiological concepts. This multi-focussed approach could be adapted to teaching physiology to other student groups lacking a scientific background or those requiring additional support.

Where applicable, experiments conform with Society ethical requirements