At the Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine, students spend much of their class time applying their academic reading and theory in clinical, real-world, case-like situations. Critical to Iowa State’s pedagogical model is ensuring that lectures are time well-spent and students are prepared to apply their learning. Student engagement matters, as  research tells us.

To make the most classroom lectures, Iowa State faculty decided to ditch traditional student response systems, which weren’t conducive to creating deeper engagement during class. Instead, they’re leveraging Echo360’s mobile-enabled active learning platform to transform the classroom into a dynamic learning experience.

“Engaging students in the content so they’re prepared for clinical means going beyond one-way student responses tools and facilitating real discussion throughout class,” says Deb Hoyt, Media Technical Specialist at Iowa State. “Echo360 has tremendous student engagement features. Instructors really like that they can present material to students in class, then hide the presentation slide, ask questions, engage with students in a discussion in class, and then reveal the content. Faculty are also able to better understand where students get confused so they can adjust their teaching both in and outside of class.”

Use of Flipped Classroom and Low-Stakes Testing to Improve Practical Learning

One instructor, Karl Bolser, DVM, is a senior lecturer and uses the active learning platform in two of his classes, Case Studies and Clinical Foundations. In both of his classes, Dr. Bolser introduces clinical procedures or demonstrations such as orthopedic, neurological, or physical exams via a recorded lecture. Students view the lecture prior to class. When the students arrive in class, they take a short quiz to give Dr. Bolser a pulse on the room’s understanding of the information he presented in the recorded lecture.

“I use what I would call ‘low-stakes’ testing. This is not meant to assign a grade, but rather to assess their understanding,” says Dr. Bolser. “This is very helpful for me and for the students. Based on these quizzes, I can immediately see what part of the material they understand, and what I need to review or emphasize as we go through the actual case. It also gives students the opportunities to ask more questions. I don’t think they would have asked so many questions before so it is definitely helping students with their learning. There is so much material, so much information, and I really don’t have time to cover it all, “Dr. Bolser adds. “Echo360 allows me the luxury of deciding where I should spend my time, based on how students have responded to these mini-quizzes. “

Dr. Bolser goes on to say that, “Another feature I really like is that I can see whether or not students are watching the lectures and taking notes. I believe that taking notes is very important for their learning. They can also review recorded lectures and create additional notes or questions right within the system. I like that it is all there for the students. It helps them stay organized and focused.”

Students are More Confident and Active in the Lab and Learning More

“After the lecture portion, we have a live lab where we have to apply the skills we learned as a result of the lecture. The bottom line is that because of Echo360, with the recorded lectures and engagement features, students are willing to explore more when they get to the lab. The lab is where they actually get to practice what they’ve learned on a live animal. Before, they were very hesitant and not quite sure of themselves. But by having a more dynamic, active response beforehand, students are more confident and active in the lab,” says Dr. Bolser.

Enhancing Conversation, Teamwork and Feedback in the Classroom

In addition to the “flipped class” model practiced by Dr. Bolser, Echo360 supports other pedagogies within the College of Veterinary Medicine.

“One instructor uses Echo360 to encourage teamwork activities,” according to Hoyt. “She will quiz students individually and then break the class into teams where the students will discuss their answers. They then have to respond and defend their answers in class as a team. Overall, the instructors love how Echo360 can bring students into more of a conversation within the classroom. And perhaps most importantly, the system is very intuitive. It’s been much easier to use and adapt than other platforms.”

Hoyt continues, “Our situation is that we have professional students. They are highly motivated to become doctors and to do well. They had to be highly motivated to get to this point. But, they still need help. With Echo360 instructors can see whether or not a student is interacting and actually understanding the course content. This is very important for our instructors. They don’t want to just lecture without some sort of feedback or understanding that they are actually getting through to the students. That’s the value of Echo360. It helps students interact with the information and material, with their peers, and with their instructors.”

Learn more about how Iowa State University uses Echo360. Click on the icon below to read the research.

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