Student evaluation of genetics resources

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Short Report by Dr Vivien Rolfe
23rd June 2011

 

Student Evaluation of Genetics Resources

As part of the evaluation plan for the SCOOTER project it was anticipated that some resources would be released early for student evaluation. A series of animations on alpha and beta globin genetics were produced as Adobe Flash animations with voice overs, produced by Dr Mark Fowler and developed by Dr Viv Rolfe. (Available at: http://sicklecellanaemia.org/resources/resources/scooter10-23/scooter13.html).

An email was issued on a voluntary basis asking students to complete a pre-test, view the 6 animations on alpha globin, and then complete a post-test comprising of the same questions that were randomly presented. Students volunteered from three science programmes – Biomedical Science (BSc Honours); Medical Science (BMedSci Honours) and the Foundation in Healthcare Sciences at De Montfort University. Students were of mixed levels – foundation level 3 to final year undergraduate level 6. The post-test also included a section on student attitudes to OERs.

The students study varying levels of haematology in all years, so at the time the evaluation was conducted – March 2011, all the students would have completed their lectures and had some degree of knowledge enabling them to answer either the simple, medium or advanced questions.

Results of Learning Gain Tests

27 students completed the pre-test and 21 completed the post-test voluntarily.

Pre-test scores / 14 Post-test scores / 14
10 13
7 14
9 6
5 4
7 13
0 11
0 14
0 13
0 14
0 6
11 4
3 13
4 12
4 14
10 13
4 14
9 6
4 4
7 13
11 12
0 14
11
0
5
5
5
Mean = 5.03846 Mean = 10.80952
Standard Deviation = 3.92409 Standard Deviation = 3.88097
Standard Error = 0.76958 Standard Error = 0.8469

 

P<0.05, unpaired, 2 tailed Student T Test.

 

Reflection
The small self-selecting group of students experienced a positive learning gain after using the genetics OERs on alpha globin. All of the students completed the pre- and post- tests on the same day, although it is not clear how long each student took to view the resources, or what methods such as note taking that they might have employed.

The results are therefore interpreted cautiously as an indicator that the animations were able to convey genetic details for example asking a simple question such as which chromosome is the alpha globin gene located, or a more detailed question asking for the precise location of the alpha globin gene.

Results of Student Opinions of Open Educational Resources

The following questions were introduced to the post-test.

Question Type of Q.
Yes or no, have you heard of the term “open educational resources” (OERs)? Yes / No
If you have answered no, go on to the next question. If you said yes, which OERs do you use in your learning already? Open
OER are educational materials (animations, video, text, slides) that are available for anyone to use on the internet, and most importantly they are copyrighted and licensed so you are allowed to use them using Creative Commons.   What types of online resources in general do you use? (Select all that apply). List Selection
Describe briefly when and how you tend to use online resources as part of your learning? Open
What electronic devices do you use to view these resources? (Select all that apply). List Selection
How do you feel about De Montfort and your lecturers placing their teaching materials openly on the internet for others to use? Open

 

In short, 6 out of 21 students had heard of the term OER (29%). Of the 6 that answered yes, they named the following as sources of OER: Research papers, NHS, Wikipedia, Gene Cards and Videos. All students regularly use a PC or MAC whilst 9 out of 21 claimed to use mobile devices and phones.

When asked in general the types of online resources they used, they all admitted to using YouTube and WIkipedia; many were familiar with the DMU OER Project “Virtual Analytical Laboratory” (VAL), and a few used OpenLearn. Many also used research papers and Google Images in their studies (Table below).

Sources of OERs? Total Percentage
Videos from YouTube? 21 100
Information from Wikipedia? 21 100
De Montfort Uni OERs such as VAL 12 57
Open University “Open Learn” 3 14
Google Images 12 57
Research papers 18 86

 

The following were given as open comments describing when these types of resources were generally used.

  • When given an assignment or trying to solve a problem
  • Online resources on myDMU or information on Wikipedia as background information which I then read up on in textbooks.
  • At any time usually during the night
  • Very useful in aiding in assignments during the planning stages.
  • Online learning materials, particularly those which have video content are an excellent way of memorising information that is hard to remember or understand for me.
  • To get a basic understanding of concepts, to provide guidance on what the key points are and what to research further.
  • Online to gather more information.
  • It can give the general overview of the topic before it can then be researched in more depth so you can get a general understanding of the topic before delving into reams of research papers.
  • They are excellent when it comes to revision and writing essays.
  • Podcasts further mean that I can do other tasks while listening and learning.

 

Clearly electronic resources are fundamental to student learning, for planning assignments and understanding basic concepts; enable multi-tasking and as a better way of memorising information. Most illuminating were the student responses to OER in general, open comments.

  • Good, resources should be shared to help everyone.
  • It would be very beneficial for students as it will allow students to reinforce the notes gained from lectures.
  • It would also be easily accessible for all students regardless of university to use the resources without the use of blackboard or other systems. It would also aid students living at home and away from the university so they can access the resources without having to use the universities library. One example of the advantage of OER is if a student forgets their blackboard login credentials and can only reset their password at the university which can be inconvenient especially for commuters.
  • It is excellent to see such hard work being distributed throughout the world for free. These resources are of very high quality and are valuable adjuncts to the lives of thousands. I feel proud of the fact that I study at DMU.
  • Good – encourages others to learn.
  • It would be nice if more resources like this are accessible to everyone.
  • If DMU can allow others to use their resources hopefully other institutions will reciprocate.
  • It is very helpful for students browsing the web from other universities to have access to such valuable resources.

 

Students clearly are enthusiastic and encouraging of the notion of open educational resources, and have a strong sense that resources should be shared, that the resources were of good quality and they were effective learning tools.

 

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