AN INNOVATIVE MODEL TO ENGAGE STUDENTS AND PROMOTE ACTIVE LEARNING IN THE HEALTH SCIENCES: THEORY AND PRACTICE INTEGRATION IN A MEDICAL BACTERIOLOGY PROGRAM
Queensland University of Technology (AUSTRALIA)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN10 Proceedings
Publication year: 2010
Conference name: 2nd International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 5-7 July, 2010
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Abstract:The Faculty of Science and Technology, Medical Bacteriology Program at QUT is a truly innovative T&L model reinventing how microbiology and clinical/diagnostic bacteriology is traditionally taught. Its pedagogic focus is not solely knowledge acquisition, but Knowledge construction integrated with Understanding facilitation and demonstration of both via Application. The model’s triple focus (K-U-A) pedagogy is reinforced by development and refinement of two key higher order learning skills, Critical Thinking (CT) and Complex Reasoning (CR), as integral elements embedded early in the active learning pathway, not as add-ons. The model has been developed within both workplace (real world) and theoretical frameworks. The coherent pathway of engagement and active learning spans second year (foundation) and third year (advanced) medical bacteriology streams within QUT Science programs. Around 200-250 students across both years are involved.
What makes this T&L model unique is that the standard didactic lecture format has been replaced by interactive learning experiences in the form of a Lectorial. A lectorial is a lecture-tutorial fusion and in our model, role-play activities and class/group level open discussions allow for both knowledge to be constructed and understanding to be facilitated. Role-play involves the learning facilitator (aka lecturer) acting as patient. Students ask critical thinking questions to derive the empirical diagnosis and possible causative agents of the disease reflecting the Infectious Disease Diagnosis (IDD) pathway. Thus, face-to-face interaction with the learning facilitator is a key part of the pedagogy. Lectorials overcome challenges of large classes by providing a classroom dynamic whereby students are encouraged to actively engage thereby enhancing learning processes. The IDD pathway approach is also a unique feature of the model since most diagnostic bacteriology curricula focus solely on specimen processing. Our model critically examines steps prior- and post-specimen processing and as such is a more global and in-depth view of infectious disease diagnosis. In the second half of each lectorial, Patient Report Form compilation allows knowledge and understanding to be demonstrated. This is a radical departure from traditional approaches, since lectorials actually commence activities that are further explored in the “wet” laboratory and so lectorials may be viewed as “dry” laboratory learning experiences. Wet-lab learning activities, where students process clinical specimens hands-on and solve case scenario problems by using their CT-CR skills, extend lectorial experiences following an experiential learning pathway. Hence, our model has eliminated a perceived disconnection between the theoretical and practical aspects of medical bacteriology. A critical innovation of the model has been the development of the Teaching and Learning Guide, available in hardcopy and as an electronic version in the wet lab. Far more comprehensive than the standard Laboratory Manual, the Guide is a useful student learning resource.
Informal and formal student and teaching team feedback and questionnaire evaluations, together with a transformation in the classroom dynamic and demonstrated improvements in student assessment outcomes, provide evidence that our model has achieved a significant change in student engagement and active learning in medical bacteriology. The model has been translated to other health science contexts.
Keywords: Medical bacteriology model, Lectorial-laboratory integration, Triple focus pedagogy (Knowledge-Understanding-Application), Critical thinking-Complex reasoning.