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Forensic Pathology - Distance Learning Development (as part of Teaching & Learning Fellowship)

CASSELLA, John (2008) Forensic Pathology - Distance Learning Development (as part of Teaching & Learning Fellowship). In: Celebrating Staff Success 2008 AND Forensic Research & Teaching (FORREST) Conference 2008, July 2008 FORREST & September 2008 Celebrating Staff Success.

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Abstract or description

“Development of a module for Pathology’ and Forensic Pathology teaching to University Undergraduate/Postgraduate Students and Appropriate External [Allied Health] Organisations” using distance learning and flexible learning strategies.
The true understanding of the paradigm of physiology is only reached through an understanding of the pathological process. Clearly, therefore, from a pedagogical and from a market perspective, there is an opportunity to create a short ‘pathology-forensic pathology’ course for delivery to a wide diversity of biological, forensic and allied-health related courses at the University and potentially outside of the University to Primary Care Trust.
The need for a provision of such a course to the Allied Health professionals is clear; their improved understanding of disease processes, will ultimately assist them in the treatment and indeed prevention of disease. For Undergraduate Forensic Science students, this course will act as a natural developmental stepping place from basic human biology/physiology, studied in their first year and help it to link more appropriately with final year disease oriented modules available in the final year of undergraduate study across a number of programmes.
There is a clear requirement for forensic science students to have a basic yet robust understanding of pathology, in order to assist them in better interpreting a crime scene or potential crime victim, as opposed to an individual suffering from an organic/pathological illness.
Based on discussions with local pathologists also a Senior Biomedical Scientist in Histopathology, a course containing the theory and academic rigour, combined with practical input from pathology and histopathology would be feasible for UG delivery and also clearly has an external market.
This Forensic Pathology module would be the logical step into a detailed examination of selected body systems, pathology and forensic investigation (with Court reporting) of findings. Such a course is considered highly attractive as part of ongoing Biomedical Sciences ‘Continuing Professional Development’ and as a stand-alone course for academic interest.
‘Body systems’ and pathologies would be studied at the University or indeed any environment where a computer was available. Using such Computer Assisted technology to grasp basic aspects from a ‘problem-based’ learning directive, the ‘students’ would progress to the examination of the pertinent body system under investigation, at the mortuary of a local hospital and of histopathological microscopy examination under the direction of a Senior Biomedical Scientist.
Students would work in groups on the computer problem based learning topics. Assessment would be achieved by the submission of team based portfolios; such portfolios would demonstrate the group dynamics and the understanding of the material in the Problem Based Case-studies. Further assessment would be achieved by a time-constrained case study.
Student feedback as to the success and limitations of this course is vitally important so a discussion group ‘on-line’ will be formed to help monitor and resolve any issues as the course runs.

It has been shown that the PBL (Problem Based Learning) approach produces more motivated students with a deeper subject understanding, encourages independent and collaborative learning, develops higher order cognitive skills as well as a range of transferable skills including problem-solving, group working, critical analysis, lifelong learning and communication. Students should be required to develop a problem solving strategy, to acquire new knowledge and to make judgements, approximations and deal with omitted/excess information. PBL students perform as well as, or slightly worse, than students from traditional courses on conventional examinations of knowledge. However, PBL students are superior with respect to their approach to study and learning, long-term retention of knowledge, motivation, use of resources, key skills and subsequent success as postgraduates. Mature critical thinking is a prerequisite to understanding science and to applying it appropriately.
This strategy is a student-centred method of instruction that is based on developments in cognitive learning theory and results from classroom research that suggest most students experience improved learning when they are actively engaged, working together, and given the opportunity to construct their own understanding. This method emphasizes that learning is an interactive process of thinking carefully, discussing ideas, refining understanding, practicing skills, reflecting on progress, and assessing performance. In a classroom or laboratory, students would work on specially designed guided-inquiry materials in small self-managed groups. The instructor would serve as a facilitator of learning rather than as a source of information and can do so remotely by e-mail or Discussion forums. The objective therefore is to develop learning skills as well as mastery of discipline-specific content simultaneously.

In this environment, students work in teams to acquire information and develop understanding through guided inquiry. They accomplish tasks and examine models or examples, which provide all the information central to the lesson, in response to critical-thinking questions. These questions compel the students to process the information, to verbalize and share their perceptions and understanding with each other, and to make inferences and conclusions, i.e. construct knowledge. They then apply this knowledge in simple exercises and to problems, which require higher-order thinking involving analysis, synthesis, transference, expert methodologies, and integration with previously learned concepts. The value of the “case approach” in the classroom, is that it puts the subject matter in context rather than presenting the material as a series of isolated facts and abstract principles. When information is put into story form, it is easier to learn and remember. It has particular appeal for students put off by science taught in the traditional lecture style.
There has been a noticeable increase in demand for problem based learning combined with ‘Virtual Learning Environment’ (VLE) mounted resources from a more technologically aware student body. Many students have come to realise that they are gaining learning advantages from online collaboration and as a consequence are increasingly using the more advanced features of the VLE to engage in peer-to-peer support.

The funds available therefore, will be needed to;

• Support the development of the teaching materials and the generation of the curriculum that links academic and practical elements and where appropriate, the Courtroom element.
• Enable the developed materials to be prepared as a course pack suitable as a course ‘electronic web site’ covering all aspects of the organisation, teaching and assessment.
• Enable a pilot/trial course to be conducted.
• Enable revision on the basis of experience and structured feedback.

Once the course has been sufficiently developed and considered suitable, the marketing process will involve;

• Generation of correct University Quality documentation for building and provision into existing programmes, e.g. Forensic Science and to appropriate external markets.
• Promotional materials
• Production of final course materials

After the period of funding has been completed, it is hoped that this programme will become available on a ‘commercial basis’ in association with the Primary Care Trust.
Additional benefits will be the generation of a closer partnership with local hospitals as well as Continuing Professional Development for current staff at the University of Staffordshire to become involved in this project.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Poster)
Faculty: Faculty of Computing, Engineering and Sciences > Sciences
Depositing User: John CASSELLA
Date Deposited: 25 Oct 2016 15:31
Last Modified: 25 Oct 2016 15:31

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