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C. Romá-Mateo, C.J. Calvo, G. Olaso-González

Universitat de València (SPAIN)
Human physiology is a basic subject with great burden for the students within the first courses in health related degrees at the University level. Physiology as a discipline is markedly heterogeneous, since it includes anatomical, functional, molecular and biochemical notions, all widely interconnected. For this reason, it is difficult for students to integrate this knowledge, especially in early years where all dependent subjects (general biology, biochemistry, etc.) are taken simultaneously. To facilitate the learning acquisition processes, the audio-visual resources have proven a great support to communicate abstract course contents and/or data obtained through complex experiments. Furthermore, when using appropriate methodologies it becomes a powerful ally to support contemporary concept from other basic disciplines.

The purpose of our study is to introduce well-known audiovisual resources to support general physiology courses gathering feedback from the students to develop a specific set of videos and other audiovisual material tackling concepts identified by the students themselves as difficult to comprehend and time-consuming. Furthermore we analyze the impact on students’ perception of learning gain and overall success, as compared to other groups.

Thirty-eight students actively participated giving feedback in all the activities. Targeted audiovisual resources (videos and online comics identified as very useful resources) were included in each of the lectures within General Physiology classes in the Medicine degree at the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry in the University of Valencia, Spain. We used a survey design to evaluate the effectiveness of complementary video instruction, usefulness of such resources, as well as, to identify:
1) key topics identified as difficult to comprehend by the students,
2) preferred audiovisual formats, characteristics and components,
3) perception of the students on their learning gains.

We also evaluated how the video instruction affected overall outcomes. Moreover, and based on the students' responses to specific surveys, we designed the creation of a specific series of audiovisual materials targeting key sensitive contents, in order to renew the teaching methodology making it, in the process, accessible by other courses and degrees to contribute to the promotion of open educational resources and scientific knowledge in society.

Most of the students found extremely useful and powerful the use of complementary video instruction in the course. Furthermore, they highlighted the use of videos and animations, including illustrative short comic book pages as strongly powerful and captivating resources while assuring fundamental knowledge acquisition. This study has served as a platform to develop an ongoing series of videos entitled ‘Invisible Physiology’, were professors explain details of cell biology from a molecular and integrative perspective, using animations, visual resources and metaphoric elements that combines videos, comic-books with elements from science-fiction and popular culture traditions. These videos are being developed based on the feedback, comments, suggestions and results obtained from this study and previous experiences in General Physiology classes, yet can be easily introduced in related courses. All these resources may contribute to the growing community of open educational resources that may help to the scientific outreach of basic science concepts and topics.