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2006 ACELL Workshop

Whilst the prime purpose of an ACELL workshop is the testing and evaluation of submitted experiments, One of the laboratories in which delegates tested the submitted experimentsworkshops are designed to further all of the aims of the project. As can be seen from the timetable attached at the bottom of this page, each day of the workshop includes:

  • a 1 hour panel discussion of issues relating to student learning
  • two 3 hour laboratory sessions
  • two ½ hour debrief sessions
  • lunch and dinner

Simon Barrie and Jessica Chadbourne collaboratively testing a chemical safety experimentWorkshop delegates work with different people in each laboratory sessions, providing the opportunity for people to work with many different people; this provides valuable networking and also furthers the project's community of practice aims.  Academic staff delegates are deliberately assigned to test experiments in both areas inside and outside their areas of expertise, forcing them to move beyond their comfort zone.  In this way, the evaluation of each experiment draws on the expertise of some delegates, whilst still allowing staff plenty of opportunity to experience experimental work from the perspective of a student.  In general, each experiment is testing in both sessions on a particular day, and teams are mixed (student / staff) in one session, and not mixed in the other.A group of delegates discussing an experiment over morning tea

Debrief sessions are conducted in an informal atmosphere, with each session bringing together all the delegates who tested each experiment.  This provides the opportunity for the delegates from each experiment session to "compare notes", yielding a more developed picture of the strengths and weaknesses of each experiment.  Whilst this furthers the experiment evaluation aim, it also assists with networking.  The days include both lunch and dinner, in part to keep the group together in a social setting.A group of delegates discussing an experiment at a debrief session

The professional development aims of the project are futhered in two ways: firstly, through the formal panel discussions of educational issues, and secondly, through the insight into the student's perspective afforded by participating in the laboratory sessions with student delegates as equals.  This involvement also provides students with a rare opportunity to interact with staff from many instiutions over an extended period, providing them with netowrking opportunites and offering them some insight into the staff members' perspectives.



The most recent ACELL workshop was run at the University of Sydney, on February 13 to 15, 2006.  It was attended by 33 staff delegates and 31 student delegates from 27 universities around Australia and New Zealand, as well as by the ACELL team.  Over the course of the three days, the delegates tested 33 experiments; these experiments are identified in the document at the bottom of this page.

The workshop itself was an enormous success.  Both staff and students commented positively on the potential for the ACELL process to improve student learning in laboratories, on the way in which their knowledge of educational issues had increased, and that their participation in the workshop had been valuable (Figure 1).  Students came away from the workshop convinced that designing laboratory exercises involves more than they had realised, a sentiment with which more than half of the staff agreed.

Figure 1

Student delegates to the workshop came away having realised that academic staff are more interested in improving laboratory learning than they had previously realised (Figure 2); comments to this effect were common in the survey conducted at the end of the workshop.  Students also learned that laboratory exercises are intended to teach more than they had previously realised.

Figure 2

Staff also learnt from their experiences at the workshop, with nearly 90 % agreeing that their workshop participation had reminded them of what it was like to be a student (Figure 3).  This might also be reflected in the number of staff commenting in surveys on how tiring they found the workshop process.

Figure 3

 The Educational Template developed by ACELL was also generally well received (Figure 4), although staff indicated a greater willingness to use it when writing new experiments than when evaluating existing experiments.

 Figure 4

A more extensive set of workshop evaluation data, including the qualitative data from the open-response survey items, is available below.  A detailed discussion of how to analyse such qualitative data, using this set of data as a model, is provided here.


Related files:

  1. 2006 ACELL Workshop Participants

    This document lists the delegates who participated in the ACELL workshop held at the University of Sydney in February 2006.

    Download Other Document (Word Document, 40KB)

  2. Delegate Evaulation of the 2006 Workshop

    This file contains a summary of the responses of the delegates to the 2006 workshop to the Likert scale items on the evaluation survey,and 'the verbatim responses to the open-ended items.

    Download Other Document (Acrobat PDF, 35KB)

  3. Experiments at the 2006 Workshop

    This document lists the 33 experiments tested at the 2006 workshop,along with their identification codes.

    Download Other Document (Acrobat PDF, 26KB)

  4. Schedule of the 2006 ACELL Workshop

    This shows the daily schedule for the 3 day workshop held at the Univeristy of Sydney between 13 and 15 February,2006.

    Download Other Document (Acrobat PDF, 11KB)