Author: Ed Dudley, Dr Nigel Francis, Dr Claire Morgan, Dr Paula Row
It has been noted previously that first year undergraduates when first undertaking practical classes are unfamiliar with equipment commonly utilised in our Biochemistry and Genetics degree schemes and some are less confident in handling data generated in these practical sessions. A formative practical session was designed in order to allow students to undertake 3 key skills (applicable to multiple practical classes) and interpret the data generated within a two hour formative practical class during the first teaching week. The comparatively short practical session allows the student cohort to be divided into classes of 25 students per session and appropriate staff and demonstrator numbers were available to allow for a ratio of 5:1 UG students : assistants, thereby ensuring students always had access to support if they had questions.
At the end of the first practical-containing module of the year, students were asked to complete a questionnaire to comment upon whether they felt that the formative sessions had helped them with their later summative practical classes. The response was generally very positive, however, it was noted that a number of students requested further assistance regarding the related data handling element of the formative class.