Proceedings of The Physiological Society

Physiology 2016 (Dublin, Ireland) (2016) Proc Physiol Soc 37, PCA098

Poster Communications

An online tutorial workshop provides instantaneous and consistent feedback for a large student cohort

D. Davies1

1. School of Physiology, Pharmacology and Neuroscience, University of Bristol, Bristol, United Kingdom.


Providing consistent feedback to large student cohorts presents a major challenge. When creating a teaching activity aimed at introducing the use of imaging techniques in research to a cohort of 120 students it was important that the efficient delivery of timely and constructive feedback was a major consideration (Nicol & Macfarlane-Dick, 2006). This was achieved through construction of an online tutorial using Wimba Create within our Dynamic Lab Manual platform (eBiolabs, MacMillan, 2015). Following a short introduction to the relevant techniques, the students were given data obtained from a ‘mutant mouse' that exhibited diabetic symptoms. Students were then asked multiple choice questions that required analysis and interpretation of the imaging data. Data obtained using each technique provided a step towards the final solution to the problem. For example students first investigated the histology of the pancreas, then, using images of immunostained sections, insulin expression in beta cells. Thus, the tutorial was set up as an exercise in experimental design using imaging techniques. Formative feedback was provided in ‘real time' in that the students were encouraged to check the answer to each question within the online tutorial before moving on to the next question. The advantages of this form of feedback are that it is instantaneous, it allows students to work at their own pace and to learn from mistakes without pressure (Race, 2001). To help students understand the feedback, answers were provided along with explanations. In addition, as the tutorial was carried out in a class session, students also had access to the help from a demonstrator for further explanation. The learning outcomes associated with this activity included being able to 1) explain what each imaging method contributes to solving a research problem and 2) choose methods appropriate to the research problem. To assess whether learning outcomes had been attained students completed pre- and post-workshop quizzes. Focussing on one question, testing understanding of which technique to choose for a specific problem, students were asked to give a confidence score for their answer, based on a Likert scale of 1-5 with 5 being most confident. Correct responses to the question increased from 71.3% to 83.5% in the pre- and post-tests respectively. In addition, confidence scores significantly increased with 13.9% of students giving a score of 5 before the workshop rising to 47.8% after the workshop (median: pre- 3; post- 4; Wilcoxan Signed Ranks test p<0.001). Provision of instantaneous, formative feedback that is consistent and supported by access to academics is the key to making this a practical and beneficial solution to delivering support as students numbers increase.

Where applicable, experiments conform with Society ethical requirements