Wednesday, 16 April 2014

University of Leicester Biological Sciences degrees accredited by the Society of Biology


We are delighted to be able to announce that the following degree programmes have been approved as accredited degrees by the Society of Biology:
BSc Biological Sciences (With A Year In Industry)
BSc Biological Sciences (Biochemistry) (With A Year In Industry)
BSc Biological Sciences (Genetics) (With A Year In Industry)
BSc Biological Sciences (Microbiology) (With A Year In Industry)
BSc Biological Sciences (Neuroscience) (With A Year In Industry)
BSc Biological Sciences (Physiology with Pharmacology) (With A Year In Industry)
BSc Biological Sciences (Zoology) (With A Year In Industry)
BSc Medical Biochemistry (With A Year In Industry)
BSc Medical Genetics (With A Year In Industry)
BSc Medical Microbiology (With A Year In Industry)
BSc Medical Physiology (With A Year In Industry)
Students who complete an industrial placement year from 2014-15 on will graduate with an accredited degree. So what does that mean?
"Degree accreditation by the Society of Biology recognises academic excellence in the biosciences, and highlights degrees that educate the research and development leaders and innovators of the future. The accreditation criteria require evidence that graduates from the programme meet defined sets of learning outcomes, including gaining a substantial period of research experience."
In other words, it is an external guarantee of academic excellence to students and to employers.
Worth celebrating!


Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Learning about learning outcomes: the student perspective

xxx The University of Leicester Learning Outcomes Project team has published a new paper based on research conducted on students at the University concerning their perceptions about, and uses of, learning outcomes.

The findings suggest that the majority of students find learning outcomes useful and use them to support their studies in various ways. However, the data also indicate that some students struggle to understand from their learning outcomes the level of learning required to cover their topic area or to pass assessments. Additionally, some students reported that learning outcomes can restrict or overfragment their knowledge. While many students wanted learning outcomes to remain a central part of their learning experience, the findings suggest further work is required to establish more effective use of learning outcomes as a learning resource.


Sara Brooks, Kerry Dobbins, Jon J.A. Scott, Mark Rawlinson & Robert I. Norman. Learning about learning outcomes: the student perspective. Teaching in Higher Education. 27 Mar 2014 doi: 10.1080/13562517.2014.901964
Abstract
Despite an extensive literature on how to frame learning outcomes, to date, limited attention has been given to understanding whether and how students actually use them. This study employed a questionnaire survey and focus groups with students in three disciplines at the University of Leicester to explore students' perceptions and use of learning outcomes. The findings suggest that the majority of students find learning outcomes useful and use them to support their studies in various ways. However, the data also indicate that some students struggle to understand from their learning outcomes the level of learning required to cover their topic area or to pass assessments. Additionally, certain respondents reported that learning outcomes can restrict or overfragment their knowledge. Whilst many students wanted learning outcomes to remain a central part of their learning experience, the findings suggest further work is required to establish more effective use of learning outcomes as a learning resource.


Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Biological Sciences PedR meeting Tuesday 8th April - team-based learning

Teamwork The next meeting of the Biological Sciences Pedagogical Research Group will be from 12 to approximately 2pm on Tuesday 8th April 2014 in Adrian 207e (GENIE meeting room). These meetings are open to all staff and cross-disciplinarity is encouraged.

At this meeting Nicola Suter-Giorgini and Alan Cann will be discussing team-based learning.

We hope to see you are the meeting.

Monday, 31 March 2014

An online "taster" course for Biological Sciences

For the past six months we have been fortunate to have Adam Pryor working with us as part of the University of Leicester Graduate Internship Programme.

Adam's project was to assist with the production of a free online taster course in Biological Sciences using the Blackboard CourseSites platform. This was intended to be both an outreach project and a recruitment tool, highlighting the excellent teaching available within the School of Biological Sciences and putting participants in contact with academic staff within the School. Adam worked on the development of multimedia content (text, images, videos) based on the first year teaching curriculum in the School of Biological Sciences and current research interests of academic staff within the School and put the content into a format suitable for the Blackboard CourseSites platform. Having built an online course, he also conducted online evaluations of user feedback from A level students. In line with other recent findings as the 2013 MOOC hysteria fades away, the feedback collected showed that while the online content is high quality, it is not particularly engaging for the target audience.

Considering the limited time and budget available for this project, successfully completing this project is a great achievement on Adam's part, and we hope that we have fulfilled the objectives of the Graduate Internship Programme. Adam is currently looking to build up a portfolio of experience in the development of learning resources, so if you have a current project that you would like help with, send him an email.



Monday, 24 March 2014

Broaden Your Horizons

Bioscience Horizons It's a shame that the great work our final year project students do doesn't reach a wider audience. Other universities have recognised this, hence Berkeley University appointing a Wikipedian-in-residence to work with staff and students and encourage them to publish their work on one of the world’s most widely read websites.

Maybe that's a bit too radical for some, but there are plenty of other examples of bringing student work to a wider audience, such as Leicester's Journal of Interdisciplinary Science Topics, which contains such gems as The Viability of Throwing Giant Tortoises Onto Mines.

Still too far out for you? Then how about Bioscience Horizons, which publishes the best of undergraduate research from the UK and Republic of Ireland.

Don't your students deserve to be more widely read?


Monday, 17 March 2014

GENIE Public Engagement Lectures: Meet Your Genome and The Genetics of Cancer

GENIE

GENIE public engagement lectures are aimed at the non-scientist. These lectures are free and open to everyone.

The next GENIE lectures will take place on the 18th October 2014 at 6.30pm:
Dr Ed Hollox: Meet your genome
Dr Steven Foster: The genetics of cancer
These lectures will take place in the Frank and Katherine May lecture theatre, Henry Wellcome building. To book your place, or for further information, please email: genie@le.ac.uk




Thursday, 13 March 2014

The Role of Overseas Field Courses in Student Learning

Panthera leo In the week that the Biology Department discussed developing a tropical biology field course, it is worth looking at the evidence in favour of these expensive and resource-intensive courses, as well as the educational rationale behind such trips:

Anne E. Goodenough, Richard N. Rolfe, Lynne MacTavish, and Adam G. Hart: (2014) The Role of Overseas Field Courses in Student Learning in the Biosciences. Bioscience Education. dii: 10.11120/beej.2014.00021
Abstract: Field courses provide excellent opportunities to engage students with their subject. Previous research has confirmed the considerable academic and pastoral benefits gained from taking students out of the classroom, especially in Biosciences and related disciplines. Here, we compare student attendance/attainment on a Level 5 Biosciences field course to South Africa to: (1) attainment on other Level 5 modules; (2) attainment at Level 6; (3) dissertation performance; and (4) grade trajectory between Level 5 and Level 6 for two successive cohorts. Students who attended the overseas field course tended to attain higher dissertation marks than non-attending peers and had a better grade trajectory, being more likely to improve their degree classification between Levels 5 and 6. We discuss possible (non-mutually-exclusive) reasons for this, including academic experience, undertaking challenging assessment at the end of Level 5 based on independent research (essentially a mini-dissertation), piquing students' enthusiasm, or simply that field trips attract students motivated to improve academic performance. Given the limited specific consideration of running field courses in unfamiliar environments (e.g. overseas) in Higher Education, we also discuss the potential additional benefits afforded by geographical novelty, considering: (1) student experience and enjoyment; and (2) student perceptions of learning. We found that, with appropriate preparation, running field courses in unfamiliar locations can add to the general benefits of fieldwork for student learning. Our findings do not support previous work suggesting that students can be disadvantaged by novelty, concluding instead that the novelty of the environment, and the new experiences thereby afforded, were positive.