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Students win national learning award for designing smart worksheets

Students have won a top teaching prize after coming up with an innovative way to help undergraduates to test their lab skills while learning online.

Final year Biomedical Science students Parag Bhatt and Muhammed Allana came up with the Smart Worksheet as part of their final year research project, to improve first-year students’ understanding of micropipetting – measuring very small amounts of liquids - an essential industry skill.

THUMB Parag and Muhammed

The De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) pair especially wanted to reach as many students as possible from the diverse cohort, so focused on diversity and inclusion when designing the test.

“We wanted to implement something that could be beneficial and relatable to everyone, and that they could have a sense of familiarity and belonging,” said Parag. “We added inclusive characters to give the sheets a friendly feel and we used language and phrases that we would use anyway, so it would be more relatable. For me, the project has been one of my favourite part of the degree.”

Parag and Muhammed worked with LearnSci throughout the process to put together the smart worksheet, designing different avatars, testing and refining as they went.

Feedback from first year students found that they felt more confident and less anxious about micropipetting after completing the smart worksheet. They were also able to get higher than average responses from Black and Asian students.

Parag and Muhammed worked with former DMU Biomedical Science Professor Jo Rushworth, who is now Director of Education and Students at the University of Lincoln. 2021 winners webpage.

smart worksheets pic
She said it was the first time that students have helped design such a digital learning tool. “It was their project totally and they were able to show a new way of reaching learners, making it interactive and inclusive. I’m very proud of them.”

Muhammed it was the experience overall from start to finish it was “amazing”, adding: “It has given me more confidence in myself and I feel that I have learned some useful skills like working in a team and presenting.”

They will be presented at the upcoming Horizons in STEM Higher Education Conference hosted by University College London in June. The event helps to share the best new teaching practices with the wider HE community.

Ashleigh Steele, community of practice lead at LearnSci, said: “The judging panel was extremely impressed; their application was regarded as one of the top examples of innovative teaching and learning using digital tools.”
Posted on Monday 25th April 2022

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