An Evaluation of the Use of Video Tutorials as supporting Tools for teaching Laboratory Skills in Biology


The recent developments in digital media and availability of portable digital devices have opened many possibilities for educational use. A potential application arises when teaching a particular skill relies on the accurate description of the procedure involved. Teaching molecular biology falls within this description, as it requires highly specific skills with well-defined protocols, for which small errors can lead to failure of the process. This study aimed to evaluate the use of a video tutorial during an active learning laboratory-based session on students’ competence and confidence. The study group comprised undergraduate students with minimal experience in a laboratory environment, previously identified as lacking confidence when first facing the procedures alone. Students were allocated to one of three groups which either (a) received face-to-face training and were asked to repeat the procedure alone at a later date; (b) received training and were asked to repeat the procedure alone at a later date with access to the video; or (c) did not receive training but were asked to carry out the procedure alone relying on the video. Comparisons were made between the groups in terms of their behaviour, the end result of the procedure, and their answers to a questionnaire assessing their confidence. Results suggest that a blended approach yielded the greatest success when performing the procedure alone. Moreover, the availability of the video tutorial increased students’ confidence in their own ability. Video tutorials are proposed as excellent tools as part of a blended approach to teach practical skills.  
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