Edinburgh Research Explorer

Catriona Bell

(Former employee or visitor)

Profile photo

Willingness to take PhD students: Yes

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), University of Glasgow
Development and evaluation of knowledge dissemination interventions for smallholder dairy farmers in Tanzania (with special reference to bovine mastitis)
Bachelors in Veterinary Medicine, Royal Veterinary College

Professional Qualifications

National Teaching Fellow , NTF
Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, PFHEA
Higher Education Academy (HEA) International Scholar
Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice, Learning and Teaching Centre, University of Glasgow, PGCAP

Area of Expertise

Research expertiseveterinary education, faculty development, staff development, teaching effectiveness, knowledge dissemination/ transfer, clinical skills teaching and assessment, peer assisted learning, curriculum mapping


I am a qualified veterinary surgeon who started working in a mixed private veterinary practice before undertaking a residency, PhD and lectureship in the Farm Animal Medicine and Production Department of the University of Glasgow Veterinary School.

My PhD combined aspects of education, epidemiology and knowledge dissemination in a developing country, and lead me to realise that my main interest lay in veterinary education with a particular focus on optimising 'how students learn'. I therefore changed my career focus in 2005 to Veterinary Education and joined the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, University of Edinburgh as the first Lecturer in Veterinary Education in the UK. Over the past decade, I have developed various aspects of both my teaching and research expertise accordingly, and I am now particularly interested in cross-disciplinary approaches to Learning and Teaching enhancement.

My present role focusses on two key areas:

1) Director of Faculty Development Programme to enhance teaching (including design, delivery, coordination and undertaking longitudinal research into the impact of the programme). This includes the Edinburgh Teaching Award (EdTA) - a mentored longitudinal pathway that leads to accredited fellowship of the Higher Education Academy. Based on the success of our local, discipline-specific version of the EdTA at the R(D)SVS (>55% academic engagement and 28 fellowships since launching in 2015), I was invited to champion and help facilitate the roll out of this approach more widely across other Schools and disciplines at the University of Edinburgh. I am therefore currently seconded to the Institute for Academic Development one day per week and am working collaboratively with IAD colleagues to achieve this.

2) Director of Clinical Skills Programme (teaching, assessment, resources and team). This includes designing and equipping two novel teaching spaces (Small Animal and Large Animal Clinical Skills Labs), and designing and delivering an innovative new curriculum from scratch that spans all five years of the undergraduate veterinary degree programme. We have embedded novel scenario-based small group practical classes and objective structured clinical examination (OSCEs) into the programme with the aim of enhancing practical skills training and employability for our students.

In addition, I contribute to teaching across all years of the veterinary curriculum, particularly the design and successful implementation of Peer Assisted Learning methodologies, and providing clinical context to preclinical areas of the curriculum . I was involved in designing the R(D)SVS Student Support Programme, and further contribute to the enhancement of the student experience through our R(D)SVS Study Skills Support Programme.


Current Research Interests

Veterinary Education, Faculty Development, Student Learning, Peer-Assisted Learning, Student Experience, Curriculum Mapping, Knowledge Dissemination/ Transfer

Research Interests

1) Faculty Development, Peer Assisted Learning and Veterinary Education: Key member of educational research and development team in the Veterinary Medical Education Division. Secured external grant funding in form of  a prestigious Higher Education Academy International Scholarship, and grants to develop novel educational interventions for clinical EMS placement preparation, clinical examination skills (including auscultation), and to identify important attributes in the new veterinary graduate. Secured internal funding for educational research projects including: Peer Assisted Learning, development of ‘Virtual Hospital’, student feedback, and undergraduate admissions. Also undertaken BVM&S Curriculum Mapping research project.

2) Knowledge dissemination/transfer in developing countries: Undertaken international collaborative research on a Wellcome Trust funded project entitled “Efficacy and Impact of a health and welfare education programme for horse and donkey livestock owners in Ethiopia”. This builds on my previous knowledge transfer research and uses innovative applications of recognised qualitative and quantitative methodologies (e.g. participatory situation analysis and multilevel statistical modelling) to design, deliver, evaluate, and provide quantitative evidence of the impact of knowledge transfer and educational intervention programs.

Collaborative Activity

Clinical Skills Teaching, Resources and Assessment: University of Calgary Veterinary Medicine, Canada (Dr Emma Read and Dr Kent Hecker)

Previous: Faculty Development: University of Bristol Veterinary School, UK (Sheena Warman and Prof Sarah Baillie)

Previous: Development and evaluation of online Placement Preparation Tools such as the 'EMS Driving Licence' (Tierney Kinnison, Royal Veterinary College, UK;  Sarah Baillie and Emma Crowther, University of Bristol Veterinary School, UK)

Research students

Dr Andy Stringer: PhD (successfully defended Jan 2013): "Evaluation of the efficacy of knowledge-transfer interventions on the knowledge of working equid owners in Ethiopia"

Heather Bacon: part-time PhD (2012-present): working title: "Assessing and influencing cross cultural knowledge and attitudes to animal welfare”

My research in a nutshell

1) Veterinary Education is an emerging discipline, which has begun to receive increasing recognition and status over the past 10-15 years, however, little sound evidence exists around many of our standard teaching and assessment related practices. My research aims to help to address this deficit across a range of educational topics. For example, curriculum mapping provides a possible tool to address key issues associated with quality assurance and curriculum review, and my colleagues and I published the first paper in the literature relating to curriculum mapping in veterinary curricula.

2)Knowledge Dissemination/Transfer activities have become a key focus for many researchers and funding bodies, and are increasingly being reported in the literature. One of my publications (Bell et al, 2005 - Preventive Veterinary Medicine) was, to our knowledge, the first to use a randomised controlled trial and multilevel statistical modelling to evaluate the impact of knowledge transfer interventions for adult learners in a developing country, and was followed up by a subsequent comparable study evaluating the impact of educational interventions with rural donkey owners in Ethiopia. The knowledge transfer projects that I have been involved in have developed and evaluated successful educational interventions which positively impacted on the health and welfare of livestock and draft animals, and thus the livelihoods and work burden of their owners.


Year 1

The Animal Body 1, Professional & Clinical Skills 1

Graduate Entry Programme (GEP)

Animal Life & Food Safety GEP, Professional & Clinical Skills GEP

Year 2

Animal Life & Food Safety 2, Professional & Clinical Skills 2

Year 3

Professional & Clinical Skills 3

Year 4

Professional & Clinical Skills 4

All Years

Professional Development

Administrative Roles


Director of R(D)SVS Faculty Development Programme (including HEA accredited R(D)SVS Edinburgh Teaching Award Programme), Director of Clinical Skills Programme, Member of Study Skills Support Team, UG Teaching admin (VTO and above), UG teaching staff, Pre-Clinical Teaching

Collaborative Activity


Secondment to Institute for Academic Development to help facilitate local Edinburgh Teaching Award (faculty development for teaching) programmes within Schools at the University of Edinburgh

Research activities & awards

  1. AAVMC Veterinary Educator Collaborative (VEC) Conference

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in conference

  2. Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) Annual Conference

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in conference

  3. BMC Veterinary Research (Journal)

    Activity: Publication peer-review and editorial work typesPublication peer-review

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