LabTutor Software: helping transform physiology teaching at Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany

19 Jun 2011

Educators from Goethe University Frankfurt have reported how they used LabTutor software with PowerLab systems to help improve their students’ learning experiences and exam outcomes in Advances in Physiology Education. The full text article, detailing the effects of integrating active teaching strategies into a physiology course for fourth semester pharmacy students, is available to read on the journal website.

Moving from lectures to student-centred experiments with LabTutor

In 2008, the educators began re-orientating a physiology course for fourth-semester pharmacy students to include more active teaching strategies, with the aim of ensuring students did not just learn physiology facts, but were also ready to integrate and apply their knowledge beyond the next exam.

As part of their move from a course structure described by students as a “forced lecture marathon”, the educators introduced LabTutor experiments to help illustrate specific physiological systems and functions, including:

  • Recording EEG signals to explore the central nervous system
  • Measuring blood pressure to aid understanding of the cardiovascular system
  • Completing spirometry experiments to illustrate lung function and respiratory capacity

Results: Better exam marks, more satisfied students

When compared to previous years, the average student’s result in the independent state-wide exam at the end of the course increased by over 9%. Further, Goethe University Frankfurt’s average physiology exam results rose to more than 6% higher than the national average. In end-of-course evaluations, students completing the course incorporating LabTutor practical sessions also rated their learning experience more positively compared to cohorts from previous semesters.

"Our efforts to make physiology more concrete and, thus, more tangible and memorable seemed to be well-received in that students welcomed computer-based modules (ie, those featuring LabTutor experiments) as useful to illustrate the material taught and requested the introduction of such modules as well as case studies in all course units."

By Matthew Goddard

Science Manager

Researcher, Dad and motorbike racer.