New Perspectives in Science Education

Edition 14

Accepted Abstracts

A Multilevel Approach to Student Empowerment: Examples from Biomedical Science

Natalie Colson, Griffith University Gold Coast (Australia)

Helen Naug, Griffith University Gold Coast (Australia)


Here we describe our multi-leveled approach to empower students and teaching staff in an undergraduate Biomedical Science Program. Empowerment has been described as a process of creating intrinsic task motivation by providing an environment and tasks which increase feelings of self-efficacy and energy1. This environment is created in the Biomedical Science program using four interrelated strategies: 1. In a first year core course, the development of meta-cognitive skills is facilitated using the blank page technique for learning anatomy2 which provides students with the power to regulate their own learning. 2. In another core course, students develop competence and mastery in synthesizing information and applying knowledge using real life case studies within a directed framework. After inclusion of directed case studies in the curriculum, students are able to perform better on assessment that requires synthesis and analysis of information. 3. Empowerment of laboratory tutors through discipline-specific peer observation professional development program to provide a better learning environment in which to empower students. This program supports reflective practice and situated learning, and creates a community of practice for these junior staff members. Tutors report increased self-efficacy after taking part in the program3. 4. At the program level, a flexible model of course and program delivery has been developed providing options for remediation, mid-year entry, online learning, intensive learning and non-traditional class-room learning. This has empowered students in the digital age by providing flexibility in the way that they engage with the Biomedical Science curriculum without sacrificing laboratory skills and other key graduate outcomes. These multilevel changes have empowered students and staff towards creating capable, highly skilled Biomedical Science graduates.

Thomas & Velthouse 1990 Cognitive elements of Empowerment, Academy of management Review, 15. Frymier, Shulman, Houser 1996 The development of a learner empowerment measure, Communication Education, Vol 45.

Naug H, Colson N, Donner D. Experiential Learning, Spatial Visualization and Metacognition: An Exercise with the “Blank Page’ Technique for Learning Anatomy Health Prof Ed 2 (2016) 51-57

Naug,H Colson N et al.  A peer observation program for the development of laboratory tutors. The Asia Pacific Scholar 2(1) 2017

KeywordsEmpowerment, metacognition, case-study, reflection, flexibility;


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