Development and evaluation of an online computer-aided learning (CAL) package to promote small-animal welfare

Denwood, M and Dale, V H M and Yam, P (2008) Development and evaluation of an online computer-aided learning (CAL) package to promote small-animal welfare. JOURNAL OF VETERINARY MEDICAL EDUCATION, 35 (2). pp. 318-324.

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Abstract

Rationale for the study - The aims of the study, conducted as a student research project in the 2004-5 session, were to develop an interactive, online computer-aided learning (CAL) package on the topic of small-animal husbandry; to validate the resource as a suitable lecture replacement for first-year veterinary students; and to raise awareness of current guidelines and legislation relating to small-animal housing among local catteries and kennels and in the wider community. Methodology - Quantitative feedback was collected from student and teaching staff using paper-based questionnaires. Qualitative feedback was gathered from open questionnaire responses and through focus-group discussions with students. Student examination marks were compared for 2004 and 2005, allowing a comparison of student performance before and after the replacement of the traditional lecture with the CAL package. Ethical approval for the study was granted by the faculty's Ethics Committee. Results and conclusions - The CAL package on small-animal housing was well received by teaching staff and students; student performance in examinations improved after the introduction of the CAL program, suggesting that it provides a suitable alternative to didactic teaching. The creation and distribution of the CAL package on CD-ROM and its availability via the Internet are intended to contribute to small-animal welfare education in local catteries and kennels and further afield. The package sets a precedent for the development of more Internet-based, student-authored CAL packages in the future, providing additional resources for independent learning.