Nalini's research focuses on disruptive technologies for learning and for clinical practice.
EDUCATION: In the area of medical education, Nalini is particularly interested in student learning and assessment. She is currently involved in multidisciplinary research on blended learning, team-based learning and ePortfolios. Nalini is also investigating personality traits and learning styles and how these influence assessment performances in various modes of assessment both in face-to-face and online engagement. This research is aimed at developing sustainable and robust assessment methods for higher education. Her research also includes real life simulations and virtual reality for personalized learning.
VIRTUAL AND IMMERSIVE REALITY: Practical learning experiences are essential in many disciplines to actively immerse students in an embodied understanding, and provide a mode of learning that cannot be easily replicated in a normal/online classroom. Immersive Virtual Environments (IVEs) can significantly contribute to immersive learning and pedagogy in disciplines that involving real world scenarios. All other media, including video, requires a 'suspension of disbelief' so the consciousness can interpret the media. In IVEs, the consciousness itself is the medium for experience and learning. The integration of these tools into higher education is now recognised as a fundamental strategy for next-generation learners and is a key area of interest for learning and teaching. However, their potential in learning and teaching is under-explored. Nalini is engaged in evaluating pedagogy and learning of students engaged in IVEs. We have developed immersive learning experiences that are delivered in the fully immersive AVIE iCinema at UNSW or as virtual online activities. These activities are designed to enhance learning by integrating multiple paradigms to form complex simulations, and develop critical thinking through simulated ‘real-world’ scenarios. Students complete specific learning tasks within the IRAs with a personalised tutor system. We are primarily interested in analysing student engagement with immersive learning, and its impact on student performance in assessment and related clinical competencies, and evaluating the impact of IMEs on brain activity.
3D PRINTING is an emerging technology that allows for objects to be physically constructed from a virtual model. The advantage of this, particularly in medicine, is that it provides a tangible structure that clinicians can use to plan procedures without having to invasively inspect the patient. Its use in the assessment of mitral valve (MV) disease is one area in which this technique is being investigated. Research into the use of 3D printing in MV assessment has been conducted in recent years. However, while promising findings have been made, the research is still in its very early stages, with limited data available, and current results need to be validated. Nalini is engaged in evaluating and validating 3D modelling and printing techniques for use in the planning and management of surgical and interventional procedures such as MV repair and replacements.
CLINICAL ANATOMY AND IMAGING: Advances in technology has resulted in an increased number of safe imaging procedures. This is having a large impact on management and treatment, particularly in the paediatric population as it has made possible the use of a number of anaesthetic and surgical procedures that were previously not used in this sub-population. I am engaged in standardising clinical landmarks for infants and children in different stages of development using CT and MRI, investigating the current use and effectiveness of regional anaesthesia in paediatric practice, and virtual reality for surgical training.