Biomedical Science Students Showcase their Community Knowledge Initiative Projects

Monday, 2 April 2012

NUI Galway biomedical science students recently held a presentation day, to showcase the projects which they completed as part of the community knowledge initiative (CKI) module. This module introduces students to the concept of service-learning* and aims to link classroom learning and community service to enrich learning experiences and emphasise civic responsibility.

The module gives the opportunity for students to learn and develop through active participation in experiences that meet real community needs. The module is integrated into the students’ curriculum to provide structured time to think, talk and report on their activities, while also working as part of a team.

The four main projects this academic year included:

  • Off Bio Heart: The development of a smart phone application to deliver video-based footage of curriculum-based biology laboratory practicals to Leaving Certificate students. This project, supervised by NUI Galway’s Dr Lynn O’Connor, Biomedical Science, and Dr Des Chambers, Engineering, was in collaboration with MSc in Software Design and Development postgraduate students Janette Saunders, Mel Reynolds, Karen Staunton and Shane O’Sullivan.
  • Awareness of Hypertension as a Cardiovascular Risk Factor in a Third-Level Educational Institution: This Croí/CKI Health Promotion Initiative was supervised by Dr Ger Flaherty, Medicine Lecturer at NUI Galway, with the group reaching over 150 staff and students at the University. 
  • Student Health Connect Mentors: Students acted as mentors both inside the University and in local schools, giving student-centred information about sexual health, alcohol and other drugs, mental health and nutrition. The project was supervised by NUI Galway Lecturer in Medicine, Dr Brian Stewart.
  • Awareness day for the Irish Therapy Dogs Association:  This voluntary body provides physical, therapeutic and educational benefit to people in hospitals, nursing homes, day care centres, schools and other places where people may be restricted from having pets and where the presence of dogs, and their handlers, will add comfort and support. The students also researched the growing interest in the use of dogs in medicine focusing on functions distinct from the role of the therapy dogs, producing and distributed a calendar highlighting the current and expanding roles of dogs in diagnostic medicine.

At the annual showcase, Dr Lynn O’Connor, module coordinator at NUI Galway, said: “These community experiences bring the curriculum alive to the students and we appreciate the commitment of our community partners for providing these rich learning experiences for our second year students.” 

Brenda Rickard, Chief Executive of the Irish Therapy Dogs Associates, said: “Irish Therapy Dogs very much appreciate the hard work and commitment shown by the students of NUI Galway in increasing awareness about the benefits of pet therapy and the importance of the work that we do.”

Programme Director, Dr Maura Grealy, added: “The programme has surpassed my expectations in promoting student development awareness of community needs, organisational skills and confidence; they have done great work and I am very proud of them.”

This is the third year that the module has been offered to students of Biomedical Science and it has become a very positive aspect of the academic programme at NUI Galway. Over 40 degree programmes at NUI Galway include a service learning module. Engineering students find solutions to community problems, Occupational Therapy students roll out essential services to schools and hostels and Maths students work in second level schools and share their knowledge through a creative Maths curriculum.

For further information is available at www.nuigalway.ie/cki and www.irishtherapydogs.ie.

-ENDS-

Author: Marketing and Communications Office, NUI Galway
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