Use of role play and LEGO™ to teach first year physiology: Does active learning really work?

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Meaningful engagement within biomedical science subjects continues to be an obstacle to success for students enrolled in allied health professional courses. Historically, the perception that these subjects are difficult has contributed to a relatively high fail rate often accompanied by subsequent course withdrawal. To address this we designed creative and innovative student centred interactive learning activities that give learners the required confidence to engage with complex physiological mechanisms. To assess the impact of these learning activities we analysed subject fail rates, exam performance and numbers of positive responses in subject experience surveys over a four year period. Our results show an overall 7% decrease in subject fail rates accompanied by improved exam performance in questions aligned with learning activities and an increase in positive responses from subject experience surveys. We have shown that these learning activities promote active learning in a challenging environment and promote a deeper learning experience for students.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSTARS 2018 Conference proceedings
PublisherQueensland University of Technology
Number of pages5
Publication statusPublished - 2018
EventSTARS 2018 Students Transitions Achievement Retention and Success - Skycity Convention Centre, Auckland, New Zealand
Duration: 08 Jul 201811 Jul 2018 (Conference website)


ConferenceSTARS 2018 Students Transitions Achievement Retention and Success
Country/TerritoryNew Zealand
OtherThis conference provides the opportunity to disseminate and discuss current research, good practice, emerging initiatives and leading edge ideas that are aimed at enhancing students’ tertiary learning experiences. Discussion on a wide variety of subjects is encouraged and focuses on the following topics:

- Students – who are they, what are their needs, what works for different cohorts, strategies for broader social inclusion and increasing participation in tertiary education, participation of first nation peoples
- Transitions – pathways to tertiary education, transitions into (the first year experience) during (work integrated learning) and from tertiary education including graduate employability, and capstone experiences
- Achievement – strategies promoting student achievement including curricular and co-curricular reform, employability, gamification and simulation enhanced learning
- Retention – program, discipline, whole of institution, inter-institutional and sector collaborations designed to improve student retention, threshold skills and concepts
- Success – student engagement, technology enhanced learning, understanding students expectations and realities, psychological wellbeing, application of learning analytics
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