Learning human biology: Student views on the usefulness of IT materials in an integrated curriculum

Mary Peat, Sue Franklin, Alison Lewis, Rod Sims

Abstract


Given the significant investment by tertiary institutions in the design and creation of computer based teaching and learning resources, it is important to continually evaluate outcomes from their implementation. Within this context, this study reports on the use and perceived usefulness of educational multimedia resources and communications technologies within a single course in a first year biology program. Using an action research model as the basis for the evaluation, data of expected and actual use and usefulness of the resources were collected from students using surveys and focus groups. While the majority of students indicated the multimedia resources were useful for learning activities through providing off campus access to supplementary and relevant materials, others did not find the resources useful, and some did not use them at all. In addition, the use of communications technologies was greatest for social interactions rather than course specific activities. Use was not a function of students' access to computers or the Internet. These findings highlight that online resources will not necessarily generate value added learning for all learners, and that programs will need to offer a variety of learning resources that target different learning styles and enable a mix of off campus and on campus opportunities. Other important factors also emerged from the study, in particular the barriers that learners encounter when working with computers and the integration of these resources into the teaching curriculum. In addition, the study highlighted the value of action research as a means of conducting evaluations of computer based learning resources.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.14742/ajet.1758

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