Enhancing laboratory experience using QuestionMark and feedback loops to drive decision-based learning

Research output: Contribution to conferenceOther


In the life sciences, there is an increasingly limited capacity to engage students in laboratory exercises. This is primarily due to increasing class sizes and limitations in the timetable. Furthermore, certain key protocols are not feasible due to costs and the length of time they take to complete. Most practical classes are procedural in nature, with a strong decision making element woven through. These decisions at key points in the protocol influence the outcome and so provide directed stages for assessment and feedback within a safe and non-costly environment.
Through the use of the online assessment tool, QuestionMark, experimental procedures can be represented as a series of steps, instructions and questions with consequences. By delivering feedback at each step, the student learns experiential details of the procedure through their choices and the individual decisions made influence the outcome of the experiment. Through incorporating branches and loops within the assessment structure the student actually gains pseudo practical experience. The specific example developed and for discussion here is the Western blotting protocol; a commonly used practical technique within the life sciences. Due to complexity, cost and time, running this as a real practical class is not feasible. However, this simulated online tool equips students with working experience and understanding of the protocol in a safe, cost free environment, where learning and experience is enriched in a risk free, decision driven way.
Such is the flexibility of this design, that the precise aims can be varied according to the intended objectives of the exercise. Furthermore it could be adapted for use in any decision driven context within the institution e.g in the physical sciences, or even within procedural areas of Arts and Social sciences. The proposed talk will cover aspects of design, feedback, use of QuestionMark and assessment of success.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2014
EventHEA STEM Annual Conference: Enhancing the STEM student journey - Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Duration: 30 Apr 20141 May 2014


ConferenceHEA STEM Annual Conference: Enhancing the STEM student journey
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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