OJVM  Vol.3 No.8 , December 2013
Computer Assisted Learning for Improving Cattle Palpation Skills of Veterinary Students

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, Vol. 3 No. 8, 2013, pp. 319-327. doi: 10.4236/ojvm.2013.38052.
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