During this pandemic year, Level 3 Human Biology and Physiology students have had no exposure to laboratory work due to COVID-19 restrictions, yet the development of core skills in practical investigation are important for Life Science graduates. To address this issue, teaching and technical staff decided to run mini-projects outside the laboratory setting to help these students attain course ILOs and graduate attributes. Usually, students would carry out a small-scale investigative practical project at the end of semester 2. Working in small groups of 5-6 students, staff-guided planning for these projects begins early in the semester. Students develop their own experimental hypotheses and methods, with data collection carried out over the course of a scheduled experimental week towards the end of the semester. Support sessions interspersed throughout semester 2 offer guidance and enable staff to respond to learning needs that arise. As all students are active-participants in the design process, mini-projects are an example of co-creation in learning, as described by Bovill and colleagues (2016). This year data was collected at home using laboratory techniques approved by the safety committee. This presentation will discuss the preparation for, and delivery of, mini-projects as a collaborative process between academic staff, laboratory technicians and students. In discussing the successes and challenges that arose in adapting them for remote working, we will promote the often-overlooked role of laboratory technical staff in teaching provision. As well as being key to risk assessments and facilitating home-delivery of equipment, laboratory technicians were available for troubleshooting during the data collection phase. Using MS Teams, group Zoom calls, and the Lt cloud-based learning platform to provide support and facilitate interactions allowed academic staff, technical staff, and students to continue in a collaborative approach throughout all stages of the projects. Communicating directly with lab technicians empowered students to feel in control of their projects, supporting development of graduate attributes and professional skills. Bovill, C., Cook-Sather, A., Felten, P., Millard, L., & Moore-Cherry, N. (2016). Addressing potential challenges in co-creating learning and teaching: overcoming resistance, navigating institutional norms and ensuring inclusivity in student-staff partnerships. Higher Education, 71(2), 195–208.
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Baxendale, R., Bowers, M., Davidson, P., Logan, G., Price, K. & Rowe, I. 2021, 'Academics, Technicians and Students: Co-Creating a Remote Mini-Project in Life Sciences', 14th Annual University of Glasgow Learning and Teaching Conference: Transforming Teaching & Taking Stock. http://eprints.gla.ac.uk/244596/