A Research Based Physiology subject was developed to improve undergraduate students’ experimental design and written communication skills through the generation of a scientific manuscript. This subject consisted of active-learning lectures, small-group discussions and formative feedback on students’ drafts of sections of the
manuscript. Students were segregated into low-, middle- and high-achievers based on their prior level of achievement. Analysis was performed on students enrolled in Semester 1 and Semester 2 (n = 332) in 2013. Our data demonstrated that there was a significant positive Kendall’s rank co-efficiency between the number of drafts submitted and the scientific manuscript assignment mark for low- and middle-achievers. Furthermore, for these groups, there was a significant positive Kendall’s rank coefficiency between students’ prior level of achievement and their assignment mark, with no coefficiency between their prior level of achievement and number of drafts submitted. However there was no coefficiency between prior level of achievement and number of drafts submitted for all groups. A significant positive Kendall’s rank oefficiency between prior level of achievement and either theoretical content or experimental design marks exists for middle-achievers only. Finally, all groups had a significant improvement in their assignment grade and experimental design marks
compared to their prior level of achievement. However only low- and middle-achievers demonstrated an improvement in their theoretical content mark compared to their prior level of achievement. Therefore, this study demonstrates that scaffolded learning using active-learning lectures, small-group discussions and collaborative workshops, may enable students to develop their experimental design skills, but more importantly
can be used to develop written scientific communication skills.
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