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MERLOT II


    

Peer Review


SPINAL CORD INJURY

by
 

Ratings

Overall Rating:

4.25 stars
Content Quality: 4 stars
Effectiveness: 4.25 stars
Ease of Use: 4.5 stars
Reviewed: Jan 10, 2009 by Health Sciences
Overview: This learning module is designed to teach information about spinal cord injuries and how it affects people. It discussed the difference levels of spinal cord injury and included in-utero spinal injury, such as spina bifida. There are profiles of individuals with injuries at each level. The learning module includes a multiple choice quiz with feedback for right and wrong answers, a glossary with terms, and links to other resources. This module is just one of two components of a biology module. The second component is on genetic disorders.

The main web site is titled: Education on Disability and Gender Equality (EDGE). The learning module sponsor is Disability Social History Project and was funded by the U.S. Department of Education PR Award.

Learning Goals: The major learning goal is to provide information about disabled women and men with spinal cord injuries in "the context of science, biology, civics, and culture" in order to "better understand gender differences and disability related diversity.
Target Student Population: The site states that it was designed for high-school students. However, it could be useful for some advanced younger audiences.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: The information is presented at a basic level with explanations of the
terminology. There are no prerequisite knowledge or skills.
Type of Material: The materials are interactive tutorial lessons that walk the student through the material and culminate with a self test.
Recommended Uses: This information could be used in multiple subject areas and would be a very nice introduction tool to begin discussions. The site along with the lesson plans should lead to some interesting critical thinking for the students.

According to the teacher's manual the lessons can be used in several ways:

  • In class reading to augment classroom lecture for classroom discussion
  • Completed as a homework assignment
  • Completed for extra credit
Technical Requirements: Any internet browser should be adequate to view the site. No special plug-ins were needed.

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 4 stars
Strengths: The learning material is accurate but very fundamental (which is makes sense given the audience and the time frame - 1 hour - for completion of the material. The presentation is simple, using only text, a few graphics, and hyperlinks. The linked resources are appropriate and valid.

Ease of use and high quality graphics would make this site attractive to high school students. The lesson plans and teacher support information would make it attractive to the instructor as well. Each lesson can be completed relatively quickly and so it could easily be used to introduce the topics and leave enough time for an indepth discussion.

Concerns: The resources could be more comprehensive with links to sites like Medline Plus, the National Spinal Cord Injury Association, and Cure Paralysis Now.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 4.25 stars
Strengths: The learning module provides an explanation of a problem. The simple approach makes it easy for the learner to cover the material quickly.
Concerns: This learning resource should not stand completely alone. Instructors should encourage students to follow the multiple links for more information on the topic. The graphics are very busy, with too much information. Animations would be perfect for this kind of project.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 4.5 stars
Strengths: The site is easy to havigate. The menu bar at the left side of the pages is consistent and easy to use. The site design actually leads the student through each module. The quizzes are interactive and provide feedback to the learner. The terminology is explained or defined in the glossary. It is colorful and very interactive.
Concerns: The site would be improved with a link to help from the menu bar. The graphics would be much clearer if they had only the essential labels (links to information in the learning text) and if they had a roll-over feature. As the graphics appear now, there are too many labels to make any sense to the learner.

Other Issues and Comments: None