1 Universidad Complutense de Madrid (SPAIN)
2 Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2022 Proceedings
Publication year: 2022
Pages: 4154-4159
ISBN: 978-84-09-45476-1
ISSN: 2340-1095
doi: 10.21125/iceri.2022.1009
Conference name: 15th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 7-9 November, 2022
Location: Seville, Spain
The Biology Degree at Complutense University of Madrid (UCM) includes several Genetic Engineering subjects. In one of them, Fundamentals of Genetic Engineering and Genomics, students often lack the motivation to learn the theoretical protocols that they have to use later in the wet laboratory. To engage them in the subject, we have attempted several pedagogical techniques over the years, including flipped learning and gamification. To implement the latter, we have developed a dedicated web platform, where students collaborate in groups to investigate, analyze and restrain a mysterious pathogen which is causing a pandemic that slowly spreads over the world. In order to play, students have to solve off-line exercises that afford them the points necessary to progress in the game. One of the goals is to show how the genetic engineering techniques they are taught in the classroom are applicable to real-life problems.

Although these innovative approaches have been well received in general, students often complain about the extra workload. Mentoring schemes, in which former students of the subject give advice to the new ones, show that students who use these resources report a better experience, but unfortunately most do not rely on the mentors. Another problem seems to be the lack of immediate feedback for the exercises, because teachers have to make an extra effort to evaluate them, thus delaying their response. In addition, often not all group members participate equally in the game, something that the rest perceive as unfair.

As part of the aforementioned mentoring strategy, students from other degrees (Biochemistry; MSc Biotechnology) have started to participate in programming tasks to further improve the web platform. Here we report on the new developments that are helping make the web more accessible and user-friendly for both teachers and students. One of the ongoing projects is to build an H5P plugin for the CodeIgniter framework that the web is built upon. H5P is an open source interactive-content creation tool which is compatible with several Virtual Campuses, including Moodle, the one used at UCM, as well as with popular content management systems (CMS), such as WordPress. However, a connector for CodeIgniter does not yet exist. We hope that by creating one, we will be able to incorporate self-assessment exercises in the game platform, so that students can receive the immediate feedback they are demanding, teachers will be freed from part of their assessment tasks and players will have the chance to participate individually and not only as a group. In addition, the contents created in H5P may be shared among various genetic engineering subjects. We also present an analysis regarding the improvement of digital skills among the students who contribute to programming the game and its CMS.
Genetic engineering, open source tools, self-assessment, gamification, student-teacher collaboration.