In this descriptive study, the impact of modifying the method of conducting the seminar course during the COVID-19 outbreak was assessed by comparing the performance and the satisfaction level of batch-6 students with batch-5.
The finalizing process of the list of seminar topics, the student`s selection of the topics, and the faculty`s evaluation of students in preparing their seminar, and the evaluation rubric of the presentation remained the same.
However, due to the COVID-19 outbreak, batch-6 students were not able to meet their supervisors physically like their colleagues in the previous year. During the COVID-19 outbreak, all meetings between supervisors and students in the seminar course were conducted virtually through different applications including Microsoft Team and Blackboard Collaborate, in addition to emails and phone communication.
There was no significant effect on achieving the learning goal of the seminar course, where 92% of batch-6 students agreed that they were able to successfully achieve the learning goals of this course compared to 95% of batch-5 students, (P-value 0.518). In addition, 80% of batch-6 students agreed that the learning environment of the seminar course was conducted in a supportive manner, compared to 90.5% of batch-5 students, (P-value 0.183).
In the seminar presentation, students presenting their seminar topics using PowerPoint slides and they are evaluated by several faculty members from both the pharmacy practice department and pharmaceutical science department using a pre-announced rubric, which is mapped to the course learning outcomes (CLOs) and program learning outcomes (PLOs) as well, with a total score of 60%. With COVID-19 outbreak, the seminar presentation activity conducted the same way, but it was virtually through the Microsoft Team, and students were evaluated by multiple graders using the same rubric that was used previously.
The impact of virtual conduction of the seminar presentation activity was assessed. There was no significant difference between batch-6 (97%) and batch-5 (100%) students in the agreement that the seminar course enhanced their appreciation of the concept of “strength of evidence” as a tool for supporting their recommendations on the specific policy issues, (P-value 0.235). Furthermore, 93% of batch-6 students agreed that the course further developed their skills in providing evaluations, compared to 100% of batch-5 students, (P-value 0.090).
However, the proficiency of student`s presentation skills was significantly affected with conducting the seminar presentation activity virtually. In batch-6, 90% of the students agreed that the course enhanced their presentation skills compared to 100% of batch-5 students, (P-value 0.036). This difference mainly occurs because of lacking the experience of the chance to apply the non-verbal communication skills while presenting the seminar topics. Previously, the seminar presentation activity was conducted in a large auditorium, with a capacity of more than 100 people, so students had opportunity to present their seminar topics in front of a huge number of audience including students from different batches and faculty members with different specialties. For batch 6, they present their seminar topics virtually, so they missed the opportunity to apply the non-verbal communication skills such as maintain eye contact with the audience, avoidance of certain mannerisms, in addition to a maintained polished and poised posture.
Moreover, the influence of conducting the seminar course virtually was assessed by comparing the overall satisfaction of batch-6 students with the previous batch. The satisfaction of batch-6students was not significantly different than that of batch-5 students.
Finally, the college of pharmacy at King Saud bin Abdul Aziz University for Health Science was able to modify the seminar course due to COVID-19 outbreak with ensuring the safety of students and staff while maintaining the quality of the course, however, the reflected satisfaction was not affected with the new model.