The material is an assignment to use an online brain anatomy website to supplement in class learning. Students follow instructions from the assignment to go through the anatomy website while filling out a worksheet. The worksheet involves fill in the blank and matching assignments. The brain anatomy website itself has multiple, accurate descriptions of different brain regions and their functions, and supplies its own assessment quizzes for each section. This exercise is part of the Michigan Education through Learning Objects (MELO) project.
Instructors can apply the exercise as a homework assignment or as an individual supplement to in-class learning (e.g., students can use the website to review parts of the brain and quiz themselves).
Three reviewers successfully accessed the learning material using Google Chrome. A flash player is required.
Identify Major Learning Goals:
As presented by the outlined assignment, students will be able to: 1. Identify the basic brain structures of the midsagittal section; and 2. Identify the primary functions of each of the brain structures.
Target Student Population:
The material would be most useful for undergraduate students taking introductory courses in psychology, biology, anatomy, and other disciplines requiring an in-depth review of structures and functions of the brain.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
No prerequisites are required. Only basic computer navigation skills would be needed to successfully use this site. Some level of understanding of physiology and brain structures would be useful for understanding the material presented. Note that the website does not include pronunciations of the parts of the brain.
• The strengths of the assignment lie in the material it references: the brain anatomy website has a variety of in depth material and animations that make the subject matter easy to absorb
• The website covers sections of the brain clearly and with visuals.
• The online assessments provide valuable feedback.
• The covered content is comprehensive (as it relates to the topic of brain structures in the midsagittal region) and accurate.
• The assignment is not self-contained; it relies on being able to access the external website.
• The worksheet, while broad and covering the range of material from the website, does not cover several important points, and essentially copies the questions that are already in the online assessments.
• To enhance applicability and content coverage, beneficial enhancements would include the addition of links-out to references as well as the possible incorporation of social features.
• The site indicates a copyright date of 2000, and therefore appears not to have been maintained in quite some time.
• Pronunciations for terms also would be beneficial.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
The expectations and intention of the assignment are well-explained. The two modules—the Study Module and Quiz Module—also are clearly detailed.
• The material is presented in a way that allows a lot of information to be absorbed in a short amount of time.
• The vocabulary is not prohibitive for first time students
• The material lends itself to quick and effective assessment.
• The physical separation of sections of the brain is very helpful for understanding where the sections are in addition to their function. The Study Module includes quizzes that can be selected from a menu or run after each study session.
• The material does not identify prerequisite knowledge, although it does not appear to require much. • The material does not extensively build on prior subjects; it more or less jumps from one brain region to the next in a geographic manner and not a functional one.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
• Overall the assignment site is simple to navigate, easy to understand in terms of locating the brain tutorial, and provides clear instructions on what to do with the brain website once one arrives.
• The website material is straightforward, and follows a logical and easy path. One can go through all the information or use the Table of Contents to review only certain structures. • The animations successfully allow students to visualize locations of brain regions. The interactive nature of the site allows students to move in non-linear directions
• The animation is not state of the art. Some graphics appear unclear and are a bit difficult to discern from the presentation on the screen; as this is critical to a better understanding of the brain, enhanced graphics would be useful. As well, it would be helpful to the user to be able to navigate using the images of the different parts of the brain shown at the top right of the screen, rather than just through the text labels.
• In individual modules, students have to go back to the beginning if they miss a slide; while they can move backwards from one section to the next, they cannot easily move backwards in an individual section.
• The chief challenge is getting to the site. It seems easiest to download all the material, then find the exercise among the other items.
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