University of Nottingham (UNITED KINGDOM)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2009 Proceedings
Publication year: 2009
Pages: 4518-4524
ISBN: 978-84-613-2953-3
ISSN: 2340-1095
Conference name: 2nd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 16-18 November, 2009
Location: Madrid, Spain
Introduction: Non-medical prescribing (NMP) is a six month course for nurses and certain allied health professionals. Following qualification nurses have independent access to almost the same formulary of drugs as doctors. It is therefore critical that these students develop a good understanding of pharmacology. Many of the students, however, are mature learners with little or no formal biological science knowledge and struggle with this component of the course. The implications for patient safety are profound and consequently our aim is to encourage students not just to memorise enough pharmacology to pass the exam but to assimilate this knowledge and integrate it into clinical practice.
The use of personal response technology (PRT) has been shown to promote effective student learning through a number of mechanisms. Indeed the active approach to learning, opportunities for reflection on knowledge and constant formative feedback provided by this technology have been shown to increase both information retention and to promote ‘deeper’ approaches to learning. This ongoing, individual feedback is essential to developing understanding in students who have arrived at university through less conventional routes and who may lack the confidence to ask questions in the lecture environment or to approach the lecturer directly.
Aim: To incorporate and evaluate the use of PRT in promoting pharmacology understanding in NMP students.
Methods: A total of 127 PRT questions were incorporated into eight key pharmacology lectures, representing a mix of both basic and clinical pharmacology. An average of 14 questions were asked per lecture with 13 questions repeated in two or more lectures. The responses of the students were recorded using the PRT software. Students were invited to evaluate the KS as a teaching tool through electronic questions embedded within the PRT and a number of paper-based open text boxes distributed on the final day of the module. Summative and formative examination performance was compared to 2 historical cohorts who had not had access to PRT.
Results: 100% of students enjoyed using the KS and felt it promoted their understanding of key concepts; 92% stated that it helped identify their learning needs and 87% agreed that the technology was useful in promoting integration of concepts. Qualitative feedback was overwhelmingly positive with 61 positive and 9 negative feedback statements received. Feedback was grouped into emerging themes; most prevalent was that of identifying own learning needs; less prevalent themes included anonymity, exam preparation and reduction in anxiety. Repeated questioning produced a significant increase (p<0.05) in student knowledge in 3 key areas of pharmacology and this cohort performed significantly better in both the formative and summative examinations when compared to the previous cohort (09.08). This difference was not apparent however when results were compared to a second historical cohort (01.08) suggesting a cohort effect.
Conclusion: This study demonstrated that PRT was a useful tool to enhance all students experience of pharmacology teaching on the NMP course. Student perceptions of PRT were that it increased their ability to identify learning needs and promote understanding and integration of concepts. It is unclear however whether PRT improves student performance in examination but students reported that the technology aided exam revision and reduced associated anxiety.
formative, mature learners, assessment, innovation, technology.