Using technology to enhance the educational experience of optometry students

Dr Kwang Cham1, Ms Anthea Cochrane1

1Department of Optometry and Vision Sciences, University Of Melbourne, Parkville, Australia

Aim:

Effective communication skills are core generic attributes of allied health professionals, yet are often overlooked in early years of student training. Providing immediate and constructive feedback is imperative to assist students in developing better communication skills. We sought to evaluate the educational value of using a modified University digital application (app).

Method:

The app is developed to generate pre-determined constructive feedback in real-time. It then creates a structured individualised feedback report that can be e-mailed to students instantly. The app has the flexibility to edit comments, and also allows audio commentary. The app was used to provide feedback following case seminars to Year 1 students over a two-year period. After receiving the feedback report, students completed an anonymous survey assessing feedback quality and app satisfaction.

Results:

114 (response rate = 86.5%) students completed the survey comprising of eight 5-point Likert scale items and one open-ended question. The students strongly agreed or agreed that the feedback report was timely (98%), relevant (96%), high quality (90%), and specific enough to improve on their learning (87%). It helped to identify strengths and weaknesses (87%), and they believe that the feedback will help them to improve their communication skills (90%). The report supplemented verbal feedback well (95%). Students expressed that the feedback report was valuable, allowing for critical self-reflection.

Significance of the findings to allied health:

In a time- and resource-constrained teaching environment, educators constantly explore technology to support student learning and teaching outcomes.We have implemented an app that is staff user-friendly and efficient, and concurrently provides effective feedback that students highly value.