Malau-Aduli, AEO and Lane, PA, Synergistic nexus between research-led teaching and inquiry-based student learning in Animal Sciences: Sharing the University of Tasmania experience, Proceedings of the Teaching and Learning in the Animal Sciences Conference : Challenging Old Assumptions and Break New Ground for the 21st Century, 20-22 June 2012, The Lowell Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison, pp. 72. (2012) [Conference Extract]
In order to challenge old assumptions and break new ground in teaching and learning in the Animal Sciences, a paradigm shift from the traditional ‘teacher-focus’ to a modern ‘student-centered’ learning approach is necessary. Establishing a synergy (systematic working together in concert) between ‘research-led’ teaching and ‘inquiry-based’ learning enhances students’ understanding of both science content and scientific practices (Edelson et al., 1999). Understanding the scientific concepts of genetics by nutrition interactions in Australian pasture-based sheep, dairy and beef systems is a major dilemma faced by undergraduate students. This difficulty was reflected in the 2006 Animal Production Systems (KLA220) Unit’s student evaluation of teaching and learning (SETL) at the University of Tasmania (UTAS). To address this problem, we implemented an innovative, inquiry-based learning and research-led teaching approach. The primary objective was to enhance students’ critical thinking and target their learning needs through active participation in field experimental trials and hands-on activities. Data from 104 students enrolled in the KLA220 Unit from 2006-2010 were utilized for this study. In addition to the theoretical concepts taught in class, students were exposed to hands-on genetics-nutrition experimental growth trials with sheep, laboratory experiments on intramuscular fat extraction, fat melting point, sensory evaluation of meat eating qualities, data analysis, livestock industry field visits, scientific journal article critiques and seminar presentations. Student learning experiences were evaluated through SETL surveys. On the basis of 83% response rate and quantitative Unit Evaluation mean scores, results indicated a progressive improvement from 3.90 in 2006 to 4.40 in 2010 that exceeded the average Faculty.
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