Examples of teaching innovations

MSc in Biomedical Science (Blended Learning/Modular)  - NUI Galway

The importance of taking a systematic approach to programme planning, in which appropriate attention is paid to detailed individual module and programme level outcomes becomes very clear when developing new distance or blended learning programmes. In this particular case, the course was designed to be taken on a part-time basis by professionals working within the burgeoning biomedical industry in Ireland (the West of Ireland has the world’s 4th largest Biomedical Devices industrial cluster).  Key aspects of the development of the programme include:

Grouped student evaluation approach to feedback on teaching and learning

For some 15 years now, academic staff at NUI Galway have been able to avail of a confidential feedback system which is facilitated by an independent (ie not employed directly by the institution) consultant.  This is a local implementation of a model (Mid-semester evaluation) developed by the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and who advised the local coordinators.

The protocol essentially requires that the independent facilitator visits one of the scheduled lectures/classes and for 15 – 20 minutes speaks with the students (as the lecturer leaves) and asks them to cluster into small groups of three or four and within these groups try to draw up a list of responses to three simple questions relating to the particular lecturer who has sought the review.

The students write down their responses in each group and the facilitator collects them and collates into a summary report which is then provided to the lecturer only. The document is confidential and no copy is stored by the facilitator. Whilst these questions, and indeed the general idea, is well established in many institutions, the distinctive aspect of this implementation is the confidentiality and this is something which many academic staff appreciate and is often a very helpful first step into evaluation and feedback for many of them.