The University of Porto, like other universities around the world, is working to promote effective integration of various learning techniques. This paper describes the results of a research that aimed to find and test new technologies in T&L of human nutrition in a second-cycle course of Porto University. The application of blended-learning as a strategy to respond to the numerous pedagogical challenges that Bologna presents to Higher Education and its use to join what should not be separated: learning and assessment, is described. The main goal of this project was to improve teaching of human nutrition in a large group of students (around two thousand) mixing face-to-face classes and online activities, namely, games for stimulate learning and online summative assessments that truly reflect student achievements.
The course included lectures, seminars, videoconference class, laboratorial classes, and group work. Simultaneously the online component of the course was integrated with the traditional classes, and delivered in a well-known platform – Moodle. The office of support for the new technologies in the education – GATIUP – supported teachers to combine a mix of old and new best practices in pedagogy and implement new methodologies of assessment based on the computer. The e-learning platform contained theoretical and practical classes’ support. The web-based support was also used for the delivery of pedagogic games especially created to stimulate study of nutrients distribution in foods and diet planning. These applications were developed using Visual Basic tool from Microsoft connected to an Access database. The graphic user interfaces used in the applications are very intuitive and user-friendly.
Group assignments and individual assessments were created to improve students’ learning and for evaluation of student achievements in terms of nutrition skills. Each individual assessment was made in the Faculty computer room under the supervision of teachers. Exams included multiple-choice and matching questions from a database of questions, and essay questions to answer online, covering the content of the theoretical and laboratory classes. The assignments were used to solve more complex problems in group work. Final grading resulted from competences demonstrated in individual and group work. The effectiveness of these online tools for student evaluation was investigated. The influence on the assessment scores of exams taken at different hours was investigated.
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