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SDUUP | Newsletter December 2020

THEME: TAL2020 - The Great Example - Lab@Home

At the TAL2020 conference, Alexander H. Treusch, Associate Professor at The Department of Biology, presented a way of conducting practice-based lab teaching during the difficult circumstances, caused by COVID-19 for most teachers at SDU. The method, Lab@Home, let students work on experiments in the Microbiology course, which could easily be carried out at home.

The background of Lab@Home

The aim of Lab@Home was to create a learning activity for the students, which could help students meet the learning goal in Microbiology: that the students are to attain practical skills during the course. This learning goal was hard to meet because of the COVID-19 lockdown.

Thus, the solution was to let students carry out the practical lab exercises, which are a part of Microbiology, in a home lab. Since the course had to be adapted within a short timeframe, Lab@Home kits were made with materials for exercises, which the students could work with at home and had easy access to. The lab exercises consisted of experiments, which the students were able to carry out at home.

The students had access to instructional videos for conducting the experiments and were asked to report their results through the blog function in Blackboard. Furthermore, the exercises were complemented with Labster, a lab simulation software, and calculation exercises.

Key findings and feedback from the students

The feedback from students was overwhelmingly positive, since they were actually able to work with practical experiments in the course, in spite of the circumstances. Because the students had to take more responsibility and ownership of their experiments than in regular lab exercises, this sparked their curiosity and made them want to study the topics of the course further.

By moving the practical experiments out of the lab and into the students’ homes, Alexander managed to engage the students more in the Microbiology course, along with meeting the learning goal of the course. Alexander argues that the engagement in and feeling of ownership over the experiments can be a motivating factor, inspiring the students to explore the course on their own and fostering their independent scientific thinking.

Future implications

Even though Lab@Home was a swiftly developed solution to issues caused by the COVID-19 lockdown, Alexander points out that the method has opened up for a new way of conducting lab exercises – especially since the method turned out to give students a greater feeling of ownership of their experiments.

Editing was completed: 02.12.2020