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The Role of Handouts in the M.Pharm Degree Pathway—Differentiating between the Inquisitive and the Acquisitive

Matthew J. Ingram, Helen Edmonds, Gary P. Moss, Alison J. Long, Michael H. Sosabowski, Malcolm W. McLennan

Abstract

Handouts are an established and recognised way for teaching staff to facilitate learning within higher education, by supplementing traditional didactic Learn- ing and Teaching (L&T) methods. Traditionally, teaching in UK Schools of Pharmacy has often relied upon the use of handouts as part of the L&T strategy. However, their use is inconsistent, and dependent upon the teaching style of the educator. To our knowledge, a systematic analysis of their impact on the student learning experience has not been conducted with respect to their use in the Master of Pharmacy (M.Pharm) degree programme. In this article, we survey the attitudes of undergraduate M.Pharm students with respect to the use of handouts and the effect on their learning at two UK schools of pharmacy and compare the results with an Australian (University of Queensland) school of veterinary science. We report that most students’ stated preference is for comprehensive learning support in the form of handouts. This is at slight variance with one of our previous works which, although reported a similar result, also reported that there is in some cases an inversely proportional relationship between the number of handouts given to students and the value they place upon them, as well as that students place greater value on material that they have downloaded them- selves by means of an intranet or Managed Learning Environment.
Two hundred and eighty five School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences, University of Brighton students (Levels 1–4) and 19 staff responded to questionnaire and 150 School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences, University of Portsmouth students responded.
Reporting from the view that handouts can be a coherent and effective educational strategy to promote lifelong learning, we compare attitudes of the staff and students of the schools and whether or not these influence the manner in which students and staff approach their subjects.
We report significant differences in the way five major questions were answered between each school. Comparisons of the responses from the different schools indicated that students from different universities and from both countries have different beliefs regarding handout usage. Eighty-three percent of Brighton students requested comprehensive handouts as an integral component of the lectures, compared to 56% of Queensland students, and 53% of Portsmouth students. Whilst staff favour the limited use of handouts as supplements to lecture materials and tended to agree on most responses, with only 32% of Brighton staff and 34% of Queensland staff agreeing that students should receive comprehensive handouts. More staff than students also agreed that handouts discourage further reading in a subject. Other factors that were significantly related to student responses were gender, year of study, choice of pre-registration field, the presence or absence of a part-time job and whether or not the student was studying in their native country.


Keywords

Handouts


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