Help:ANAT2341 Review 2016

From Embryology


This course review process will contribute to the design of the course in light of the pillars of the UNSW Scientia Educational Experience:

  1. Building Learning Communities
  2. Create Inspirational Educational Experiences through research-integrated learning
  3. Giving and Receiving Feedback
  4. High-Quality Online Learning

Below are shown examples of existing course design that illustrate the above principles. Similar content was included in the briefing document.

Building Learning Communities

The students are encouraged within the lecture structure to ask questions and are also questioned about the content as it is presented during face-to-face lectures and practical classes. The lecture content is made entirely available to the students in a standard format beforehand and can include: lecture objectives, direct links to two embryology textbooks, blended learning components of movies and quizzes, related developmental abnormalities and diseases, and examples of current research findings including links to research articles and reviews. Note that lecture content also includes both images and movies from current research articles.

A key component of the course is a semester long group project on an embryology related research topic developed by 3 to 5 students as an educational resource for other university level students. Students also work as small groups on a research paper presentation in a practical class on an embryology topic assessed by a researcher in that field. The students are questioned on the topic and given group feedback on the day and by email.

A range of individual assessment items are included in the course including identifying and reviewing embryology research papers on topics related to the lecture/lab material, short quizzes based on lecture content, short written reviews of lecture theory concepts. Many of these assessments are submitted online and students have the capability of seeing what other students have submitted. The course regularly has international exchange students who are able to relate their own learning experiences to students within the course.

Create Inspirational Educational Experiences through research-integrated learning

The course has always included guest researchers who describe their specialized research topic either in lectures or more frequently the laboratory setting to allow student interaction with the guest. The coordinator always encourages researchers to contribute to the course. Past researcher presentations have come from within School of Medical Sciences, Garvan Institute, Brain Sciences, Neuroscience Research Australia, Sydney University, and School of Women's & Children's Health. The 2015 course included integumentary and stem cell presentations (Annemiek Beverdam), oocyte biology research (Robert Gilchrist), neurological development (Ken Ashwell) and ectopic implantation (Mark Hill). Researchers contact information, laboratory information and publications are linked from their contributed content.

The group project assessment requires the students to investigate a specific embryology research topic. Students have directly contacted international researchers and requested, and been granted, use of their research materials within their selected topic. These projects also include an understanding of the background (history) of research in this topic area and both the current and future directions of this research. The projects incorporate research into the current molecular mechanisms of development and congenital disease. The course has and does include research students from other fields who would like to develop a deeper understanding of embryology for their own research work.

Giving and Receiving Feedback

Most individual assessment items are submitted on each student’s own online page. These submitted items are then given marks and feedback comments by the coordinator shown on the student’s own page. The research article presentation encourages student feedback within the class as well as written feedback to each presenting group.

The group project assessment is submitted online. The discussion page of each project includes an ongoing written exchange between the students within each group. This discussion area also includes the final project assessment feedback information for the students to read. This includes a breakdown of each assessment criteria, individual student overall contribution, blended learning components, research image submission suitability and relevance. Concepts around plagiarism, copyright and research integrity are included in the project process.

A good example of giving and receiving feedback is demonstrated in the project “peer assessment” process, briefly summarized here. Two weeks before the final project due date the projects are locked to prevent further changes. Every student in the class then provides written feedback to all other projects using the same assessment criteria that the final assessment will use. The grouped student feedback appears on each project discussion page, as well as the individual student’s page providing the feedback. The individual feedback on the student page is also assessed by the course coordinator with feedback, as part of the individual assessment mark. The projects are then unlocked and students can update the project page based upon the peer feedback before final submission.

High-Quality Online Learning

The majority of lectures and practical classes are provided online and accessible to students throughout the entire period of the course. Some of the blended learning components have been described in the three previous sections. Each lecture includes a variety of learning tools including links previous lecture versions, other online and two textbook resources, current research articles and reviews, simplified animations of developmental processes, research based videos, a comprehensive glossary with links to related topics. Both human and developmental animal model materials are included in the course content. Images that appear within the lectures can be opened individually, may include both labeled and unlabeled versions, include additional explanatory information and direct links to the original research article or review. Lectures and practical classes also include medical student research projects content.

The course includes online quizzes that test knowledge and understanding. Upon completion of the quiz the correct answer and a full explanation is presented to the student. Students also have the opportunity of developing their own quizzes based upon the course topics.

It should be noted that the online embryology material quality was positively referred to in a recent external review of all Anatomy courses and is both cited and used by many international institutions.

Related Links

Design Meeting Suggestions

  • Consider whether an experiential lab activity could be introduced to take small groups of students into the cell biology research labs, perhaps 6 groups of 5 students each visiting one lab for a few hours and doing some hands-on there if possible. This could also be part of their group project on research and could enhance the research-integrated learning component.
  • The way you have built an on-line community in the course may lend itself to some sort of online group so students and staff can keep in contact after the course, perhaps helping to track the outcomes of students who have taken your course. This may enhance the learning community aspect, but also give you some stats to track effectiveness of teaching approaches towards any specific desired outcomes.
  • Consider including a few wet bench lab pracs. These could reflect the research strengths in embryology/developmental biology in SoMS and serve as a hands-on introduction to research. They would contribute to the research-integrated learning experience and potentially interest students in Honours.
  • Consider timetabling a 3-hour tutorial/practical with the first hour in the form of an interactive discussion. You can have an online lecture or online activity that they must complete before they attend this session. There are ways to ensure that they have done this e.g. readiness assessment task.
  • Consider chunking some of the more fundamental content from guest lecturers into vignettes that students can view before the lecture. This should allow a bit more time for students to ask questions during labs.
  • Providing short videos (1-2 minutes) of PhD students working with the guest lecturers talking about their research and their findings. Might help to give the course more immediate relevance to students seeing peers a couple of years ahead of them doing cutting edge research.
  • If ANAT2341 moves to session 1, consideration of the sequencing of ANAT2241 would be required so that content is complementary.
  • Creating online interactive modules to replace some lectures, then using face-to-face time for interactive Q and A sessions (e.g. using Echo 360 ALP);
  • Reducing value of the final exam to 50% or less.