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ERIC Number: EJ844455
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2006-Nov
Pages: 12
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 14
ISSN: ISSN-1479-7860
Supporting the Development of Undergraduates' Experimental Design Skills and Investigating their Perceptions of Project Work
MacKenzie, Jane; Ruxton, Graeme
Bioscience Education e-Journal, v8 Article 2 Nov 2006
Project work represents a significant component of most Bioscience degrees. Conscious that students are not necessarily given adequate preparation for their final year project, we have investigated two core elements in the 3rd year of a 4-year Honours programme. One element, an investigative project on aspects of insect biology, has run for several years. The second, an Experimental Design course, was run for the first time in 2003, in order to support the development of key skills for bioscience graduates. The present paper describes a multi-stranded evaluation of these core elements. Significantly increased marks were seen in the Insect Projects in the years after the Experimental Design course was introduced. It is clear from our analysis that the students valued the Experimental Design course, believing that it had made them better able to design experiments and critique the experiments of others. We therefore conclude that the Experimental Design course is, at least in part, responsible for students' improved performance in the Insect Projects. However, we do not believe that this is the only factor that has made the students engage with the Insect Projects more successfully than in previous years. From in-depth student interviews we identify a number of features of project work that are likely to enhance student engagement and motivation. Finally, we present some of the students' conceptions of their prior experiences of experimental work that, we believe, give an indication of why students do not always value the opportunities to undertake experimental work that their courses offer them.
Centre for Bioscience, The Higher Education Academy. Room 9.15 Worsley Building, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT, UK. Tel: +44-113-343-3001; Fax: +44-113-343-5894; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United Kingdom