Action Research to Improve the Learning Space for Diagnostic Techniques †
The module described and evaluated here was created in response to perceived learning difficulties in diagnostic test design and interpretation for students in third-year Clinical Microbiology. Previously, the activities in lectures and laboratory classes in the module fell into the lower cognitive operations of “knowledge” and “understanding.” The new approach was to exchange part of the traditional activities with elements of interactive learning, where students had the opportunity to engage in deep learning using a variety of learning styles. The effectiveness of the new curriculum was assessed by means of on-course student assessment throughout the module, a final exam, an anonymous questionnaire on student evaluation of the different activities and a focus group of volunteers. Although the new curriculum enabled a major part of the student cohort to achieve higher pass grades (p < 0.001), it did not meet the requirements of the weaker students, and the proportion of the students failing the module remained at 34%. The action research applied here provided a number of valuable suggestions from students on how to improve future curricula from their perspective. Most importantly, an interactive online program that facilitated flexibility in the learning space for the different reagents and their interaction in diagnostic tests was proposed. The methods applied to improve and assess a curriculum refresh by involving students as partners in the process, as well as the outcomes, are discussed. Journal of Microbiology & Biology Education
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