Teaching innovation research
Many of our innovations in education have been developed as a result of funding awarded in 2005 by the Higher Education Funding Council of England (HEFCE) to establish the Applied and Integrated Medical Sciences Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (AIMS CETL). These innovations include:
- pioneering physiology, pharmacology and neuroscience teaching based on Human Patient Simulators to illustrate aspects that cannot be demonstrated on living volunteers;
- histology teaching, learning and assessment based on our 'virtual' digital microscope;
- web-based materials, including video, interactive media, quizzes and assignments, that support physiology, pharmacology and neuroscience laboratory-based practical teaching through the eBiolabs system.
Other innovative teaching
Undergraduate Ambassadors Scheme BSc research projects
We were the first medical science department in the UK to join the national Undergraduate Ambassadors Scheme (UAS) in 2004 and to offer final year BSc research projects in which selected pairs of undergraduates have the opportunity to teach in, and conduct project work with, a local school. These projects are very popular with our undergraduates and with the local secondary schools with which we collaborate.
Most UAS projects also include a visit by school pupils to our physiology teaching laboratories during which they can use physiology recording equipment (e.g. spirometers, ECG machines, nerve and muscle recording electrodes) to collect their own biometric data in an experimental project which is designed, analysed and evaluated by the undergraduate project students as a credit-bearing component of their BSc degree.
More information about the scheme is available at the UAS website.
Students supporting each other's learning
We have developed and evaluated several approaches in which students support each other’s learning. These include offering final year BSc research projects in which students develop and evaluate learning materials (eg on-line tutorials) that are made available to subsequent cohorts of students. Several of our courses also include an element of peer assessment in which students assess, and provide feedback on, the work of their peers. The peer assessment is then moderated by staff.
This approach is used in some first and second year physiology, pharmacology and neuroscience practical classes and poster sessions, and in formative writing skills sessions for second and third year students. We have found that providing access to both sides of the assessment process is a very constructive learning experience for students.
Undergraduate and postgraduate training in the theory and practice of animal-based research
Several members of the School have played a leading role in the development and delivery of training courses that are taken by undergraduate and postgraduate students, and early postdoctoral research scientists, to equip them with the laboratory skills necessary to understand and undertake research with whole animals in their future careers.
This training is vital for the sustainability of medical research – both fundamental research and the development of new therapies for the prevention and treatment of disease in man and animals.
As well as providing this training for our own undergraduates, some of our courses are available to participants outside the University of Bristol. The funding for this additional teaching is provided by a consortium of learned societies, research funding agencies and industry. Two members of the School sit on the organising committee of this consortium.
Postgraduate surgical training
We have designed and continue to deliver training sessions as part of the Severn Deanery School of Surgery's Postgraduate Surgical Core Training course, which prepares surgical trainees for the entrance examinations for membership of the Royal College of Surgeons.
Our contribution consists of bespoke seminar, practical-based and simulation sessions that refresh aspects of physiology and pharmacology that are essential to good surgical practice. Teaching is delivered by some members of the Teaching Innovation Group and by other clinically-qualified members of the School and is greatly valued by the Severn Deanery.
Contributions to national higher education policy and debate
Several members of the School contribute to national debate on higher education matters through their membership of committees, for example those of learned societies. These include the Education Committee of the British Pharmacological Society, the Education and Outreach Committee of The Physiological Society, the Policy Committee of The Physiological Society and the Council of Trustees of The Physiological Society.
Teaching innovation group
Find out more about the people behind our work.