Building graduate attributes which include lifelong learning and professionalism such as “an openness to, and an interest in, life-long learning through directed and self-directed study” (University of Aberdeen 2022) is core part of teaching and learning. A non-credit bearing seminar series on research skills was developed and made available online for undergraduate (and now postgraduate) students over summer, to improve analytical reasoning.
Pre-COVID-19, face to face teaching supported small group (8-10) undergraduate medical and medical science students’ summer research projects. COVID-19 restrictions necessitated moving online, opening up access to students not undertaking a project. Positive feedback resulted in increased demand with 3-6 times the number students attending live sessions, now also opened to Master level students.

The strength of the series is that each seminar stands alone, complementing rather than building on each other as in a traditional course. This has advantages for students who can tailor their needs and attend appropriate sessions. New sessions were easy to add in response to demand such as qualitative analysis, an introduction to R, reduction of the use of animals in research and keeping a research diary / lab-book. These extended the original topics of systematic reviewing, study design, data analysis, ethics, formulating research questions and academic writing.

While live attendance was greatest (~ 100) when sessions were not recorded, recordings were requested by A) students who could not attend live B) students who attended live but wished to review sessions and C) clinical and basic-science educators who wanted recordings as a resource for their teaching. All sessions are therefore now recorded for review and reuse.

Feedback showed all (100% in 2020-2022) students who responded found them interesting, enjoyable and helped them learn something new. Students joined from the local area (Aberdeen / NE Scotland, 60% in 2021 and 46% in 22), elsewhere in the UK (13% in 2021 and 15% in 22), or elsewhere in the world (27% in 2021 and 38% in 2022). Whilst all felt the content would be useful in the future (100% in 2020-21 and 93% in 22) fewer thought they would be useful in the short term (83% in 2020, 87% in 21), highlighting the students’ eagerness for building skills. In 2022, we are assessing individual seminars, and initial results show this varies from 100% (systematic reviewing) to 92% (introduction to R).

Over three years, this model has become a regular and valued feature of the university calendar. Running this has allowed us to meet demand for additional learning from students who wished to broaden and deepen their learning on research skills and stay connected with the University over summer. Demand for these formative sessions has shown an appetite from students for learning that will not directly lead to a qualification but will develop high level qualities and intellectual depth.
[1] Aberdeen, U., 2022. Graduate Attributes. [online] Abdn.ac.uk. Available at: <https://www.abdn.ac.uk/students/academic-life/graduate-attributes.php> [Accessed 12 July 2022].
Original languageEnglish
JournalActa Physiologica
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 29 Jul 2022
EventEurophysiology 2022 - Denmark, Copenhagen, Denmark
Duration: 16 Sept 202218 Sept 2022


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