Introducing learning workshops into the biosciences: A student-staff partnership


  • Louise Ainscough The University of Queensland
  • Sarah Brown The University of Queensland
  • Yumeng Cai The University of Queensland
  • James Cuffe The University of Queensland
  • Madison Jones The University of Queensland
  • Danijel Tosovic The University of Queensland


biosciences, first-year students, metacognition, nursing and midwifery students



The biosciences can be difficult for nursing and midwifery students, and embedding study skills into the curriculum may help overcome this challenge (McVicar, Andrew & Kemble, 2015). This project aimed to evaluate students’ perceptions of pass/fail ‘learning workshops’ introduced into a first-year anatomy and physiology course.


The learning workshops were co-designed and co-facilitated by past students and teaching staff. The first workshop (prior to the mid-semester examination) covered effective learning strategies, while the second (prior to the final examination) covered examination strategies. Consenting students’ (n=165) perceptions were measured using an open-ended question, which was coded using inductive thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2006).


Most students (80%) found the workshops to be useful, citing their value for learning study tips and new strategies (57%) and gaining insights into examination marking (38%). The workshops also facilitated a sense of connection with others in the course (14%). Of the students who did not find the workshops useful, many stated already knowing effective learning strategies (39%). Learning workshops are low-stakes activities that can be easily embedded within the curriculum. By focusing on how to learn, these workshops may reduce inequality between students with different levels of academic preparedness.


Braun, V. & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3(2), 77-101.

McVicar, A., Andrew, S. & Kemble, R. (2015). The ‘bioscience problem’ for nursing students: An integrative review of published evaluations of Year 1 bioscience, and proposed directions for curriculum development. Nurse Education Today, 35, 500-509.