Dr Christine Edmead, Department of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, recently gave a presentation at the British Pharmacological Society on our pilot scheme on the development of inclusive online resources to support experiential learning in laboratory classes. Colleagues from other HE institutions identified a similar lack of support for students with disabilities in practical degree programmes and a shortage of resources. This can be particularly the case in classes with large student numbers and one staff member.
At Bath we are addressing this through our Reasonable Adjustments project where the Disability Service is working with a number of faculties and departments to develop resources and encourage inclusive teaching and support practices. This will enhance outcomes for all learners, not just those with disabilities.
Some students with disabilities and health conditions may find preparing and engaging in practicals challenging and this can be daunting. A disability or long term health condition can sometimes impact laboratory attendance and missed sessions are difficult to catch up on. This can have a big impact on their studies
The pilot programme in the Faculty of Science has involved creating a bank of online resources including videos of practical procedures, audio recordings, online self-test questions and test data. This can support all students but means any students who have problems accessing the practicals can still meet their learning outcomes.
Feedback from students using the resources has been good. They have reported they have felt more confident and understood the topic more. The resources have been helpful in students developing safe laboratory techniques and allowing a deeper understanding of theory. It has also eased pressure on staff leading practicals.
Enhancements to the pilot will now be implemented and built upon to inform the development of further resources. These could be disseminated to other faculties and departments and possibly other HE institutions.