Assessing first year biology student practical skills: benchmarking across the landscape

Gerard Michael Rayner, Mary Familari, Tania Blanksby, Jeanne Young, Karen Burke da Silva

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference PaperResearchpeer-review


The importance of hands-on laboratory and field-based experiences for students in first year biology cannot be underestimated. They serve a number of crucial purposes and are highly valued by students. Nevertheless, their effectiveness in generating desired student learning and skills attributes deserves scrutiny, not least due to the cost involved in conducting them and in assessing their outcomes. A national survey benchmarked the time biology students spend in practical activities, and in the modes and objectivity of assessments that serve to measure the learning outcomes. While there is considerable variation in the time students spend on practical activities, there appears to be a lack of observable means to accurately assess and quantify student practical skills. Together with recent initiatives around active learning in undergraduate science, more authentic methods to assess the accuracy and objectivity of student skills should considerably enhance the effectiveness of practical activities for first year biology students.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe International First Year in Higher Education Conference - New Horizons
EditorsRachel Mortimer
Place of PublicationQueensland Australia
PublisherQueensland University of Technology
Pages1 - 10
Number of pages10
ISBN (Print)9781921897399
Publication statusPublished - 2012
EventInternational First Year in Higher Education Conference 2012 - Brisbane, Australia
Duration: 1 Jan 2012 → …


ConferenceInternational First Year in Higher Education Conference 2012
Period1/01/12 → …

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