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Abstract

This project aimed to improve the laboratory learning experience for undergraduate science students, focusing initially on first and third year cohorts, through specific objectives. Firstly, to incorporate novel teaching and assessment methods, including student led laboratories, in-house produced instructional videos, „Clickers‟ audience response devices, and pre-practical on-line MCQ assessments. Secondly, to develop timely feedback mechanisms, including peer review, tutor face to face and audio feedback, online automatic feedback, and report checklists. Finally, to imbed transferable skills into the laboratory including group work, communication skills (written and oral), organisation & project planning, health & safety, and preparedness for laboratories, final year projects & placement. Pedagogical evaluation was through anonymous multiple choice questionnaires and independent academic facilitated discussion forums. The main benefits are students who are better prepared, both for basic undergraduate laboratories and for independent research-based final year projects; continuity in the development of transferable skills; improved assessment quality though constructive alignment and appropriate feedback; and improved student satisfaction through engagement and feedback. The key recommendations arising from this study are; to encourage preparedness for practical sessions, harnessing technology to engage students through interesting pre-practical activities; to encourage an improved culture of feedback, including mechanisms such as podcasts, which also „feed-forward‟; and to encourage a culture where value is added to modules by actively incorporating transferable skills into all student activities and assessments, rather than a "bolt on" approach.

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