Impact of Mobile Devices on Student Learning in Anatomy Lab
by Zvi Ostrin and Vyacheslav Dushenkov
Professors Zvi Ostrin and Vyacheslav Dushenkov were awarded a 2015-2016 CUNY Community College Collaborative Incentive Research Grant (C3IRG) for their proposal entitled “Assessing the Impact of Mobile Devices on Student Learning in the Anatomy Laboratory.” The award amount is $15,000 for the period of September 30, 2015 – June 30, 2016.
Their study will assess the pedagogical value of using mobile devices, specifically iPads, and content-specific application software to stimulate active learning and retention of course content in the laboratory component of Anatomy and Physiology 1 (BIO 230). Their preliminary research, based on several small-scale pilot projects carried out over the past two years, suggests that the use of digital technology to study anatomy increases student enthusiasm and engagement, promotes active learning, and augments the retention of material.
The present grant-funded work is designed to provide a rigorous test of the pedagogical effectiveness of mobile devices and apps in biology labs. Several lab instructors will participate in the study, which will focus on selected lab topics, including tissues, and the skeletal and muscle systems. During the preparatory phase, in Fall 2015, assessment instruments will be prepared and tested on participating lab classes. During the implementation phase, in Spring 2016, data will be collected for assessment. In order to provide a basis of comparison, each lab instructor in the Spring semester will teach one lab section in which students use mobile devices to assist them in doing the lab exercise, and one lab section without mobile devices-i.e., where the students use the assigned lab manual as their major learning tool in the lab. Student learning and information retention in the two groups will be compared via quizzes and tests, and both student and faculty self-assessment questionnaires will provide qualitative data about the effectiveness of learning with mobile devices in the laboratory. Based on the expected results of this research, Professors Ostrin and Dushenkov plan on reevaluating and implementing a major restructuring of their pedagogical approach to teaching the A & P 1 laboratory, with further implications for other Biology lab courses.