Some science subjects such as biochemistry can be very challenging to first year students, who have not quite adjusted to university life and the expectation of undertaking a considerable amount of independent study. This can be daunting and overwhelming, so inspiration to learn and understand the material is essential. It is this challenge which has motivated Caroline to be creative and seek ways to enhance the student learning experience by using a combination of animations, videos and music.
Music is often an integral part of her lectures because students learn more effectively when the teaching is put into a framework to which they can relate; they love their music and technology, but may not naturally appreciate metabolic pathways, enzyme kinetics or other aspects of biochemistry. Very common melodies or songs with which the students are familiar have been adapted to a new set of words relating to a particular theme or lecture. Kevin Ahern, in the USA, has modified a whole bank of popular songs for biochemistry lectures, and these are used to introduce students to the idea of ‘learning through lyrics’. They are offered the opportunity to sing these songs in lectures and/or to bring their own adapted songs the following week.
The inclusion of students personally by suggesting they can adapt their favourite song to a biochemical concept, by changing the original lyrics to their own biochemical lyrics, involves them in their learning, shows appreciation of their interests and helps foster a sense of enthusiasm for the subject; a willingness to sing is all that is needed.