The personal response: A novel writing assignment to engage first year students in large human biology classes
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The teaching of highly valued scientific writing skills in the first year of university is challenging. This report describes the design, implementation, and evaluation of a novel written assignment, The Personal Response and accompanying Peer Review, in the course, Human Biology (BIOL1015) at The University of Queensland. These assignments were the first assessment tasks of the course and were set early in the first semester of university. BIOL1015 had a diverse cohort of 319 first year students from five bachelor degree programs, primarily from Pharmacy and Human Movement Studies. Audio files in the form of interviews with eminent biomedical scientists were obtained from a leading public radio program. Students used these files as triggers to submit a short but highly structured assignment written from a personal perspective and in an expressive style. Evaluations revealed that overall, students found the task interesting and challenging. Students performed well, regardless of their background knowledge, disciplinary interest, or preference for topics within human biology. This study demonstrated that The Personal Response was an appropriate task for these first year students of human biology. It represents an alternative to traditional essay writing.
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Education
Curriculum and Pedagogy not elsewhere classified