As undergraduate allied health programs continue to expand, there is increasing reliance on laboratory tutors, to engage, mentor and teach students. The bioscience laboratory is a specialised, tightly regulated learning environment and a potentially rich learning platform for students, but when the laboratory tutors are inadequately trained, the flow-on effects to the students can produce unfavourable learning outcomes. Traditionally, new tutors attend a generic sessional training workshop offered by the university. Due to the added health & safety considerations and the type of learning (kinaesthetic) that occurs in the laboratory, we identified a need for a specific professional development program for laboratory tutors. Our aim was to develop a program that allowed tutors to work within a framework tailored for laboratory teaching and, in a supportive environment, build teaching skills that promote student learning. Based on Lave’s theory of situated learning (Lave, 1991) and the recognised approach of supported reflective practice (Bell, 2001) we placed opportunities for peer observation at the centre of the program. The framework presented here (3P’s) was developed specifically for laboratory tutors and served as behavioural guidelines for peer observation sessions. Ten participants volunteered for the pilot program which concluded in 2015. Peer observation records and focus group data were gathered to evaluate the pilot program. Tutor feedback has initiated improvements in the program, and due to its overall success, it has been embedded into the recruitment/induction process for laboratory tutors in our department.
Keywords: Peer Observation, Laboratory Teaching, Bioscience Education, Professional Development
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