Dr Christopher Trace

Head of Digital Learning
Please email to arrange an appointment.

Academic and research departments

Surrey Institute of Education.


Areas of specialism

Technology Enhanced Learning; Digital Assessment

University roles and responsibilities

  • Head of Digital Learning

    My qualifications

    Royal Veterinary College, University of London, UK
    University Of Surrey, UK


    Research interests



    Alastair S. Macdonald, Matthieu Poyade, Orla McCorry, Christopher Trace, Mark Chambers The Art of Serious Storytelling: Using Novel Visual Methods to Engage Veterinary Practitioners in Reducing Infection Risk During Surgical Preparation, In: Teaching, Research, Innovation and Public Engagementpp. 91-107 Springer International Publishing

    Antimicrobial-resistant bacteria are a growing global healthcare threat. Uptake of appropriate infection prevention and control (IPC) measures is heavily influenced by human risk perception, consequent behaviour and the ways humans and animals interact within the environment. Effective IPC communication and teaching tools are necessary to ensure that individuals’ understanding and behaviours are in line with scientific recommendations. This chapter describes a novel approach to developing an IPC training tool to raise the perception and understanding of risk of infection to animal patients during routine veterinary surgical procedures. The researchers ‘made the invisible visible’, revealing bacterial contamination sources and their spread during preparation for surgery via a dynamic 3-layer interactive virtual model of a veterinary practice based on real-world data on human, animal and bacterial interactions. They used a serious storytelling approach, visualisation, simple gamification techniques and a collaborative design approach to engage students, nurses and surgeons from the veterinary community in the co-development of the tool. Participants were invited to identify risky behaviours, direct and indirect sources of bacterial contamination, and were prompted to reflect on the potential consequences of poor or improved IPC measures on the patient outcome and residual bacterial contamination in the practice environment. The study was conducted over two phases. Phase 1 achieved proof-of-concept: at evaluation, 92% of 51 trial participants stated an intention to change their behaviour and to implement infection controls that aligned with training objectives. In Phase 2, the tool was enhanced, and software was developed to a beta-version to enable self-paced training on web-based and mobile platforms. The co-development and evaluation process, importance of end-user engagement throughout and findings are discussed.

    Introduction: The introduction of a novel open-source approach to students getting to grips with how academic a resource is: the 'fishscale of academicness' Methods: Undergraduate veterinary students were introduced to the 'Fishscale of Academicness' as a pre-learning item in a flipped classroom model. Students were assigned different veterinary educational websites and given in-workshop time to develop their own sea-creatures that help explain the level of 'academmicness' of each website. They emailed these creatures to the facilitator, who uploaded them to a seascape. The student groups took turns presenting their website and corresponding sea creature to the rest of the cohort. These oral presentations were recorded and uploaded also with the creatures. Results: Although initially reluctant, students all participated and anecdotally seemed to enjoy the process. Key findings and Implications for Education: A method exists for introducing students to the concepts and language around what makes a resource more or less academic.

    C Trace (2009)An electronic case recording system for student use on clinics, In: Proceedings of AMEE 2009 Association for Medical Education in Europe (AMEE)
    C. Trace, C. Vinten (2018)Creating ranking competitions using Kahoot, In: Proceedings of the VSC Veterinary Education Symposium (VetEd) 2018 Veterinary Schools Council (VSC)
    C. Trace, C. B. Gomez Alvarez, A. Humphries, S. Starke (2017)Virtual Canine Lameness: the development of a training tool, In: Proceedings of the 5th International Veterinary Simulation in Teaching Conference (InVeST 2017) InVeST - International Veterinary Simulation in Teaching Conference

    Lameness is commonly encountered in veterinary practice, however precise visual lameness detection requires experience. This skill is challenging to teach: exposure of students to many patients is needed to learn the necessary perceptual skills; however patients might not be readily available. Video recordings of patients can be useful, but depend on the quality of recording and variety of cases available. They are limited to two dimensional views which don’t fully replicate a real-life three dimensional examination. Following on the success of an equine lameness training tool (www.lamenesstrainer.com) developed at the Royal Veterinary College; a 3D virtual canine lameness tool is being developed to teach students to reliably recognize canine lameness. We collected 3D motion capture data from 10 non-lame Labrador retrievers at walk and trot on a treadmill. Data were captured using eight Oqus7 cameras (Qualisys, Sweden). The movement of these dogs was recorded based on 32 reflective markers positioned over key anatomical locations. Marker positions for twenty steady strides for one dog were averaged to drive the skeleton movement of a matching 3D dog model in Autodesk MotionBuilder. The final clips were rendered to show a realistic-looking shaded wireframe of the dog model at normal walk and trot. Varying types and degrees of lameness were then introduced to this animation based on previous kinematic studies. Next stages of work will involve the inclusion of this model in a tool to enable it to be used for veterinary education; once validated it will be released as an Open Educational Resource.

    C. Trace (2016)Technology in use in Veterinary Education Worldwide, In: Proceedings of the 23rd Annual Convention of Indian Society of Animal Production and Management & International Livestock Conference INDIGENOUS & Expo Indian Society of Animal Production And Management
    C. Trace, C. Vinten, J. Mitchley (2018)The use of team activities to promote learning in a flipped classroom, In: Proceedings of the VSC Veterinary Education Symposium (VetEd) 2018 Veterinary Schools Council (VSC)
    C Trace, N Short, B Stanikova, G Gaitskell-Phillips (2012)Open Educational Resources Online Through a Collaborative Initiative

    WikiVet (www.wikivet.net) is a collaborative initiative to develop a free online veterinary teaching and learning resource. As well as aiming to provide extensive content relevant to the international veterinary curriculum, it plays a major role in a number of other initiatives. Recently, one of these initiatives was a new model for collaboration with publishers in developing open educational resources (OERs). Due to the current economic challenges, students and institutions find it harder to afford expensive text books and are looking for alternatives. Sample content released as OERs, which then links to the full paid-for resource, is a way to provide benefit to both students and publishers. A number of strategies were developed in order to drive extra traffic to these new resources; including translation of the content into French and Spanish, publishing podcast versions of key content on iTunes and promoting resources using Facebook , Twitter and e-newsletter feeds. WikiVet aims to drive collaboration between universities worldwide but this is not a straightforward task without providing more guidance. Trying to solve this problem has led to another initiative aiming to build a veterinary anatomy museum combining resources from both academic institutions and commercial publishers. The overarching idea is to share resource development effectively without unnecessary duplication. To start with, the aim is to collect all the appropriate anatomy resources that are available to date. The museum is currently under development; many institutions have already expressed interest and more are joining the WikiVet initiative as a result.

    C. Trace (2018)Use of team activities and TEL to enhance motivation and engagement in a Flipped classroom, In: FHMS Learning and Teaching Away Day University of Surrey
    E Busschers, E Crowther, C.E. Trace, S Baillie (2014)Integration, development and feedback on student authored equine electronic cases, In: Proceedings of VetEd 2014pp. 56-56

    Bridging the gap between classroom and clinic can be challenging for students. Additionally, the students’ clinical experience on rotations is influenced in part by caseload, which can be variable. Therefore, to complement the caseload and assist the development of clinical reasoning skills alternative methods can be beneficial. Student authored electronic cases (e-cases) have been developed at other veterinary schools. Students thought that the experience improved their approach to a case1 and case based learning has been shown to increase their self-confidence2. We modified a PowerPoint template1 for equine cases, consisting of a standard linear format based on a logical approach to cases. Students worked in groups to select an appropriate case, complete the electronic template and presented their work. Student feedback was obtained from 5 rotation groups. Students felt that completing an e-case improved their understanding of a logical approach (80%), the decision making process (80%) and their team work (60%). Overall students rated their experience as good (80%) or excellent (20%). The transition from scientific to clinical reasoning can be challenging and students are still considered to be novices when starting rotations. Using e-cases was considered beneficial by students and staff.

    C Trace, S Baillie, N Short (2012)Development and preliminary evaluation of student-authored electronic cases, In: Journal of Veterinary Medical Education39(4)pp. 368-374

    In medical education, virtual patients are now widely used to support and enhance clinical teaching. However, there is still only a limited adoption of similar methods in veterinary education. This paper describes an initiative at the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) in London to develop student-authored cases during clinical rotations that were subsequently adapted for self-directed learning in the undergraduate curriculum as virtual patients. This approach was designed to enhance the quality of the clinical learning experience, assist in the development of clinical reasoning skills, and complement the existing teaching caseload. The creation of virtual patients involved a two-stage process. In the first stage, students compiled clinical case data and media from patients admitted to the teaching hospitals. They then used these resources to develop electronic cases using a customized Microsoft PowerPoint template that were presented at grand rounds to clinicians and other students. In the second stage, selected cases were further developed with the integration of self-assessment and additional media to create virtual patients for use in teaching. A survey was used to gather feedback on students' experiences in creating and using electronic cases. It was completed by 163 final-year students (81%) and the results indicated that all respondents had created electronic cases on one or more rotations (mean=4.3 rotations, range=1-9). Overall, the feedback suggested that the students found creating and using these cases useful and that the experience improved their approach to a case.

    C.E. Trace (2015)Faculty Development in Veterinary Education, In: AMEE 2015

    Background: The new School of Veterinary Medicine at Surrey uses a distributed model where the final year of clinical placements will take place within partner practices not within a teaching hospital. Our school thus needs significant collaboration with the veterinary profession as our training partners. We wished to see early on how closely aligned the perceptions of how best to achieve this aligned between partner practitioners and our faculty. Summary of Work: We surveyed our partners and our faculty to assess their perceptions of what skills, knowledge and attributes (SKAs) a successful new veterinary graduate would have and how they would support the students to achieve these SKAs. Using "Poll everywhere" to develop word clouds and concept mapping, we compared the results between the two groups in their perceptions of the required SKAs for new graduate success. Summary of Results: Both surveyed groups strongly agreed that the most important skill to success is “communication”. Differences in perceptions of the importance of “business / management skills training” appeared between groups with the staff failing to mention these skills despite both words appearing in the practitioner list. Health and wellness knowledge areas were missing from the practitioner group. Discussion and Conclusions: Overall, the alignment between practitioners and academics perceptions was strong with some interesting gaps in knowledge domains but not so much in domains relating to skills or attributes. Take-home messages: This study provides very useful information for us as we develop the new school to assure better alignment of expectations between us as veterinary academics and our practice partners in training our new graduates. We must as well acknowledge the limitations of any curriculum to deliver attribute training without support from both academic and clinical trainers role modelling these.

    C. Trace, D. Tisdall (2018)Creating virtual cases using PowerPoint, In: Proceedings of the VSC Veterinary Education Symposium (VetEd) 2018 Veterinary Schools Council (VSC)
    D. Tisdall, C. Trace (2018)How do we really think about clinical cases? Unmasking the clinical reasoning process, In: Proceedings of the VSC Veterinary Education Symposium (VetEd) 2018 Veterinary Schools Council (VSC)
    CE Trace (2017)What is WikiVet
    C. Trace, J. Ehlers, J. Korich (2018)The 3C’s of TEL, In: Proceedings of AMEE 2018 Association for Medical Education in Europe (AMEE)
    Christopher Trace, David Tisdall (2018)Virtual case creation to enhance clinical reasoning teaching, In: Proceedings of the VSC Veterinary Education Symposium (VetEd) 2018 Veterinary Schools Council (VSC)

    An exercise was introduced into a 3rd year professional skills module; students created branching virtual cases using PowerPoint as a means to improve their understanding of clinical reasoning. They were surveyed on their opinions of the teaching activity, and reported that it was enjoyable, although difficult.

    C. Trace (2017)Curriculum mapping with Google Sheets, In: Proceedings of the VSC Veterinary Education Symposium (VetEd) 2017 Veterinary Schools Council (VSC)

    Mapping your curriculum's teaching and assessment is becoming increasingly necessary as curricula become more complicated and evolve rapidly. Curriculum mapping enables you to meaningfully capture and analyse data about your curriculum. This hands-on workshop will show you a quick and (relatively) easy way to get started with Curriculum Mapping that worked at Surrey using Google Sheets.

    C. Trace, C. Rusbridge (2018)Combination of a Xerte Bootstrap and Survey to teach Neurological Examination, In: Proceedings of the VSC Veterinary Education Symposium (VetEd) 2018 Veterinary Schools Council (VSC)

    A resource was created for a third-year Neurology module using the Xerte Bootstrap template. Students were given 3 hours to work through cases and log answers in an online survey, then 1 hour for a wrap-up session where group answers were discussed then answers revealed. This format proved overwhelmingly positive for students.