Dr Simon Riley on active, student-centred teaching in the Biomedical Sciences.
“These students are from Biomedical Sciences 3--they're 3rd year science students, and they're doing Reproductive Biology 3 as part of that course. So it's a stable containing pharmacology, physiology, and they've got opportunities of doing a range of different courses.
Previously, sort of the last few days, I've been giving them a short lecture series on this material. So they've seen the lectures, and what we then do is we then use the demonstration here to try and complement the learning, so it's a really nice way of being able to show them the material in the lecture, the theory behind it, try and give them really clear view from the lecture material, but then reinforce that learning by bringing the real material so that they can come and see it and gain the learning, reinforce their learning from the lectures.”
“I find this more of an interesting thing because we're doing medical sciences, and reproductive biology which is this course isn't necessarily a major component of it, but as we're going to become medical scientists in our careers, it's good to explore various aspects of that including the anatomy side of stuff like that because we know the physiology of these things and how they work on that smaller level, but it's good to see the bigger picture.
Also I'm quite a visual learner, so I quite like seeing how everything sort of works on the bigger scale.”
“I think we've got to remember that science is a practical subject. I think it's critical being able to see the material, you know, and handling. We give them a range of different practicals in this course. And obviously as the class sizes get smaller, the students get more experience. We're allowed to take them a lot further on with that practical.”
“If you're dealing with this sort of stuff in the field, you're not going to be dealing with computer models. You're going to be dealing with the real thing. So it's good to visually see the anatomy of these things up close and personal, to understand that and expose you to that way of learning in dealing with that side of science.”
“It's one thing looking at it on a diagram in a textbook, but then you realize in biology things are never clear cut, and it's never this vein comes here and then just links to this vein. It's always like there's always the complication and the beauty of these structures.”
“There's a degree of performance art in here in that I've been doing this practical for a few years and you test different things out. Sometimes the group responds in slightly different ways, sometimes the material is slightly different just by the nature of them, but you try to engage that audience and you're just looking for those cues. It must be a little bit like being on stage sometimes that you're playing off the audience a little bit.
For instance, the demonstration I gave a couple of days ago, there was a daughter of a sheep farmer, and we spent 20 minutes talking about labour in the sheep. And I knew all the questions I wanted to do, but she gave me the material really. And it was really interactive, and you could see that it really engaged the rest of the students in that they realized that there was a member of the group who knew as much as I did really. It's that type of thing, just being a little bit flexible as well to go with the material you've got, and that material might actually be your audience.”
“He's a really guy, and he comes across as really approachable, which is good, particularly like at the end of everyone going and asking questions, not everyone is as easy to go and talk to. And he does seem really passionate about what he teaches, so it's good.”
“It's interactive, and I think this is what education is aiming to become, more and more engagement. Even in this course specifically we had one lecture that was a flipped classroom model, where you read material beforehand and then in the lecture you answer questions with an online system and then you discuss that with the lecturer. Maybe one day all lectures will be like that, but I think it's an invaluable tool.”
“What I'm really trying to do is just engage them, getting them thinking about the material. I'll ask them questions; I'll show you something where, I get the student out at the front and working with me, and we'll be talking it through; we'll be interacting with the students. And students have got a range of different ways that they learn, so if I can provide a slightly different format, slightly different approaches through the lecture materials, through the tutorials, through the demonstrations, I can start to put that together in different ways, and students are going to see it in, you know, just respond to it in different ways.
And it's remarkable when you just hit the nerve right. There's that kind of get it moment. They'll see it again somewhere, and you'll reinforce some knowledge or something. And you just see it in their eyes this kind of like light bulb moment when they get a concept, and that's really exciting.”