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Audiovisual Animation Tools

Dr Eric Downer is an Associate Professor in Human Health and Disease in the department of Physiology.

Here he talks about his experience of using audiovisual animation tools in a Human Developmental Embryology module as part of the BSc in Human Health and Disease.

Dr Enda Bates photo

What might an ‘assignment brief’ look like for this assessment type in your context?  

Human Developmental Biology is a core module (PGU11003) undertaken by Junior Fresh Human Health and Disease BSc (TR056) students in the School of Medicine, that aims to bring together core knowledge in Cell Biology, Anatomy and Physiology to describe the developmental process from fertilization to birth. This module consists of 16 lectures on topics including gametogenesis, gastrulation, patterning and the development of major organ systems, which I deliver in Semester 2.

To complete this module students undertake three assessments, two MCQ continuous assessments and an end-of-year formal exam consisting of essay and short answer questions. Student feedback has indicated difficulty visualising key embryological concepts in 2D. Hence, to improve student learning, I have developed a number of embryology audiovisual animation tools to assist student learning and performance in assignment components of this module.

What are the main advantages of this assessment type?  

The use of audiovisual animation tools allows students to visualise difficult embryological concepts and also facilitates the study of key topics outside of the lecture theatre. It is well known that audiovisual aids can be successfully used as teaching tools for enhanced learning, particularly as self-directed learning aids for the visualization of difficult biological concepts. Furthermore, the use of continuous assessments ensures that students maintain consistent study during the delivery of the module, and do not fall behind on the material.

What are the main challenges for using this assessment type?  

There may be some technical issues with assessing the online tools.

Why do you use this particular assessment type in a digital context? 

I have collated feedback that indicates that students can access the digital audiovisual tools from various devices, including laptop, desktops, iPADs and phones. In addition, student feedback also indicates that students can use the tools for study while commuting, in addition to study from home and on campus. Education in Anatomy and Physiology is undergoing significant transformation, and there is a need to assess and improve teaching strategies to align with modern technological advancements and continue to enhance student learning.

What advice would you give a colleague thinking about using this type of assessment?  

Try to work and develop assessments and module structure based on student feedback. The animation tools and assessment patterns I currently use in this module are based on student feedback collated each year. I also enrolled a student who had previously taken the module to assist in the development of the audiovisual tools to assist student learning. This input from a student who has already undertaken the material was invaluable.

Do you recommend any resources or technologies to support this type of digital assessment?  

I have worked with CAPSL to develop the teaching tools. I also worked alongside a visual artist and programmer to develop the tools. The assessments and teaching tools are delivered efficiently via Blackboard.

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