USE OF VIRTUAL AND WET LABORATORIES IN BLENDED TEACHING AND LEARNING OF UNDERGRADUATE BIOLOGY COURSES
Wentworth Institute of Technology (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2012 Proceedings
Publication year: 2012
Conference name: 6th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 5-7 March, 2012
Location: Valencia, Spain
Abstract:This abstract reports the integration of labs and lectures within the undergraduate biology curriculum through the use of virtual labs and other web-based media. Specifically this study focuses in how the integration of virtual labs, simulations and web-based media may facilitate the students’ learning experience of zoology and introductory anatomy and physiology topics within a blended undergraduate biology course.
In the specific course described in this study, one out of the 3 weekly lectures was offered online and was linked to the wet lab activities. The Wet lab activities consisted in classifying, feeding or regenerating invertebrates or dissecting a variety of vertebrates and invertebrates. Prior to attending the wet labs, students had to perform qualifying online activities. These online activities included specific videos from the web related to the dissection of the animal, or about their behavior and characteristics followed by short quizzes to evaluate the students' understanding of the materials. In some instances, especially when the different vertebrates classes were introduced, students were also instructed to perform online dissections freely available on the web, including the online dissection of the shark, the frog, or the pig followed by short quizzes. The use of a combination of videos and online virtual labs prior to attending the wet labs seemed to increase the confidence of the students at the wet dissection labs and their ability to identify the different body structures, their names and functions in less time. The learning progress of the students was further assessed by including questions from the online and wet labs in the lecture exams. Students were also instructed to prepare a final project including the comparison of the adaptations of a shark, a frog and a pig to live in their habitats and a critical evaluation of their learning experience through the use of online, wet-based dissections or other web-based media.
This study summarizes the data reported back by the students in their final projects and also provides evidence that integrating lectures with the use of wet labs and a variety of web-based media including virtual labs may facilitate students' learning of complex biology topics in undergraduate courses by enhancing students’ active participation in labs and lectures.
Keywords: Biology, virtual labs, Classroom and Laboratory Integration.