The laboratory practical plays a key role science education, with up to 50% of summative assessment potentially based on practical work. This assessment has the potential to enhance learning, however issues including over-assessment, surface approaches and lack of authenticity mean this is often not realised, however digital technologies offer real possibilities. Here, we report findings from a survey of undergraduate science students, conducted as part of the Technology Enhanced Assessment (TEAM in Science and Health, funded by the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning. The survey was distributed to undergraduate Science students in the four partner institutions (AIT, DkIT, IT Carlow and IT Sligo). A total of 637 students responded about their experiences of practical classes/assessment of practical work, their experience of, and attitudes towards, digital technologies in practical settings.
The findings indicate that students have positive experiences and value the skills developed in practicals. Students were positive about the nature/frequency of assessment, although there was considerable variability in views on self- and peer-assessment. Students reported limited exposure to digital technologies; the most frequently reported were online quizzes and apps. Overwhelmingly, students agreed they would like to see more digital technologies used in practicals, although first years were significantly less likely to agree (p<.01). Regarding specific technologies, the most popular were, in order, pre-practical videos, apps, virtual labs, online fora, Socrative (classroom response system) and online tests. For each technology, while the response was favourable, a minority, sometimes substantial, did want to use that technology.