Under the Microscope: Peer Learning and Assessment in a Level One Biology Course

Brydget Tulloch, Dorothy Spiller

Abstract


This paper discusses and evaluates a group task developed to enhance and assess level one Biology students’ microscope skills. The task involved students developing and producing an instruction video on how to use a microscope accurately. In addition, students were asked to produce a reflection on the process and their learning of the task. Assessment and learning strategies of formative assessment and co-operative learning were utilised to not only improve student outcomes, but the task was designed as part of an action research investigation to improve the researcher’s own teaching. The expected outcome of a discernible increase in microscope skills was observed by teaching staff and reported by students. Unexpected outcomes included much greater peer teaching within the laboratory setting that was not limited to microscope use and greater social cohesion within student groups.

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