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Maintaining a Rewarding Biomedical Engineering Capstone Experience for Students in Remote Learning Situations

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The COVID-19 pandemic forced higher education institutions around the world to find ways of maintaining education while adhering to public health guidelines. As classes went online, instructors struggled to balance new technology demands with the stress of teaching during an emergency, hereafter referred as emergency remote teaching (ERT). This chapter presents teaching tools and techniques, assessment strategies, emergent technologies, and recommendations that apply to the COVID-19 ERT. Videoconferencing tools promote students’ sense of community when used to foster real-time conversations between students. However, when they are used as a lecturing platform, these tools can increase the digital divide. Using a combination of synchronous and asynchronous tools can provide the best of both worlds, allowing students to effectively communicate with each other with the freedom of accessing course material when time and social demands necessitate alternative learning means. While some instructors struggled with academic integrity and technical issues during exams, others reflected on the pedagogical purpose of student assessments and developed new assignments to better measure learning outcomes. The accelerated application of emergent technologies and practices has minimized the educational disruption through adaptive learning and extended reality. Although these tools are mostly experimental, they will play a key role in the transformative change of postsecondary education. Effective training in online teaching is essential to maintain student engagement and vital assistance and should be disseminated internationally. Digital inequalities need to be addressed by identifying and remedying “digital desserts.” With the growing rate of education disruptions due to climate change, disease, and war, institutions must become proactive in their planning for future emergencies.
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College students voluntarily took all their courses or one course on a pass-fail basis. The mean grade point average (GPA) before conversion to pass-fail for freshmen taking all their courses on a pass-fail basis was 1.67 (C-), which is significantly lower than the 2.26 (C+) for controls who wanted but were denied pass-fail grading. Even after returning to conventional grading the former pass-fail students continued to get significantly lower grades than controls. Juniors taking one course on a pass-fail basis received significantly lower grades, before conversion, in their pass-fail course (mean 2.07) than did controls who wanted but were denied pass-fail grading (mean 2.40). There was no compensatory improvement in the grades received in non-pass-fail courses.
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Traditionally, medical schools have tended to make assumptions that students will "automatically" engage in self-education effectively after graduation and subsequent training in residency and fellowships. In reality, the majority of medical graduates out in practice feel unprepared for learning on their own. Many medical schools are now adopting strategies and pedagogies to help students become self-regulating learners. Along with these changes in practices and pedagogy, many schools are eliminating a cornerstone of extrinsic motivation: discriminating grades. To study the effects of the switch from discriminating to pass-fail grading in the second year of medical school, we compared internal and external assessments and evaluations for a second-year class with a discriminating grading scale (Honors, High Pass, Pass, Fail) and for a second-year class with a pass-fail grading scale. Of the measures we compared (MCATs, GPAs, means on second-year examinations, USMLE Step 1 scores, residency placement, in which there were no statistically significant changes), the only statistically significant decreases (lower performance with pass fail) were found in two of the second-year courses. Performance in one other course also improved significantly. Pass-fail grading can meet several important intended outcomes, including "leveling the playing field" for incoming students with different academic backgrounds, reducing competition and fostering collaboration among members of a class, more time for extracurricular interests and personal activities. Pass-fail grading also reduces competition and supports collaboration, and fosters intrinsic motivation, which is key to self-regulated, lifelong learning.
Medical device design: Innovation from concept to market
  • P Ogrodnik
Ogrodnik P. Medical device design: Innovation from concept to market. Oxford: Academic Press; 2012.