This study investigated the effect of a computer assisted
learning (CAL) tool on the development of skills in palpation of the
reproductive tract of the cow per rectum (rectal palpation) by fourth-year
students in a Bachelor of Veterinary Science (BVSc) degree program. A secondary
aim was to determine if animal welfare could be improved by the CAL
intervention. The CAL tool was developed to provide: vivid, three-dimensional
interactive graphics of the relevant anatomy and skills; a comprehensive
glossary of terminology used in association with the skills; and formative
assessment tasks. Prior to its introduction to the course, industry
stakeholders assessed the CAL tool graphics as an accurate depiction of the
procedures. Two consecutive cohorts of students were surveyed prior to (n = 91) and
after the CAL intervention (n = 111). Responses to student surveys suggested that post-intervention
skills were learned at approximately the same rate as pre-intervention.
However, tutor surveys indicated that students in the pre-intervention group may
have had insufficient understanding for accurate self-assessment compared to
post-intervention students. According to tutors, substantially more students in
the post-intervention group gained practical skills at an improved rate and to
a higher level of competency. Both student and tutor surveys indicated that there
was a minimal discomfort to animals in these practical classes. From an
animal welfare point-of-view, it was concluded that the
intervention would not result in a reduction in the number of animals required
during practical sessions. However, due to the preparation and reinforcement
provided by the CAL tool, animals were used more efficiently by students after
the intervention, resulting in the attainment of a higher level of skill.
Knowledge gained from this study may be relevant to other disciplines requiring
students to develop practical skills associated with animals or humans.
Cite this paper
S. Norman and G. Dall’Alba, "Computer Assisted Learning for Improving Cattle Palpation Skills of Veterinary Students," Open Journal of Veterinary Medicine
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