Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Guest blog from an education research intern


Eilidh Stewart, who is hoping to begin an undergraduate degree in Anthropology this year at Aberdeen University, spent the end of July shadowing JMICAWE contributor Dr Jill MacKay. Based in the Veterinary Medical Education Division of R(D)SVS, Eilidh assisted Jill with research into education and animal welfare. Eilidh wrote a guest blog for JMICAWE about her experiences in veterinary education research:

Over the past week I have been interning in the digital education unit within the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies shadowing Dr MacKay. This has been an invaluable experience learning about the role of education research and work that goes on here.  The research undertaken by the many scientists, MSc and PhD students at R(D)SVS and Roslin Institute has been fascinating to hear about, and even more fun to assist with. I come from an arts/humanities background so the idea of working with scientists was initially daunting. However, I soon realised that my social science perspective was beneficial as I could approach theories, discussion and research from a different angle, and this helped with the social research element of some the work carried out within the Vet School. On the other hand, this week has re-ignited my interest in science. Working so closely with researchers from both the Veterinary Medical Education Division and JMICAWE improved has vastly my understanding of issues and research within animal welfare and biology - their enthusiasm for their subject has been infectious.

One of my task this week was watching recorded lectures of the Animal Biology course taught by Julie Dickson of R(D)SVS. We were using her recorded lectures to test out methods of research to analyse teaching performance, student engagement etc. within lectures. This was an informative task as it not only helped with Dr MacKay’s research into veterinary medical education but it taught me a lot about the anatomy of animals. I found the lectures fascinating.

I loved getting to hear about the various research projects carried out across the university – how we could integrate “resilience” and “empathy” training into the vet curriculum to improve mental health in students; looking at social media (e.g. yik yak) to gain feedback on university teaching and assessment and how technology such as 3D models, Virtual Reality or Recorded Lectures could be used as educational tools.

 My favourite part of this week was when we took a class for the University of Edinburgh’s “Science Insights”. This was a workshop on animal behaviour to sixteen-year olds that were interested in studying Veterinary Medicine after their secondary schooling was completed. It was fascinating to hear more about animal personalities and behaviour. Despite my help with class supervision I couldn’t help but feel like a student! The students were lovely and worked hard. We then took them out to see the horses and sheep at the vet school, and it was great to see how much enthusiasm they had not just for veterinary medicine but the research conducted on site as well. It great to be a part (albeit small) of a project that encouraged students into science, and to share my excitement for research with them.

My placement over the past week has been incredibly beneficial not just professionally but personally. I have gained a great work experience opportunity for my CV, relevant contacts for networking and a basic of understanding of animal anatomy and behaviour. It has also encouraged me to think about potentially pursuing s a future career in research/academia. I would encourage anybody else interested in research, veterinary medicine or science as a career to explore education research.

Dr Jill MacKay discussing how we can measure equine behaviour during a typical Scottish summer day!

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