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Hybrid Experiential Lab-based Learning

Karen Tobias, Small Animal Clinical Sciences

Karen Tobias teaches Principles and Practices of Surgery, which has a lecture component, a lab component, and in-class hands-on experiential learning sessions.  For COVID, these components became hybrid elements, with pre-recorded (and captioned) lectures and partially in-person labs.

Asynchronous Discussion

Instead of asking them to listen to the Zoom Q&A sessions as well, I asked instructors to either have a Discussion Board on Canvas or send out key Q&A via email so students would not have double the work load (watch the asynchronous lecture + watch the Q&A session). This made more work for the instructors but was important for student survival.   

Asynchronous Pre-lab Learning Modules

My class of 86 students is normally divided into 2 sections for their 8 labs and 1 Practical Exam. We had to divide the students into 4 sections to meet room requirements, and those rooms had to be cleaned between labs.  To make everything more efficient, I made a learning module for each lab, showing step by step how to perform the lab by use of photos and videos. For most of those modules, I divided each long video into multiple short videos, each a maximum of 5 minutes. The students could then rewatch a key portion without having to find it on a longer video.  

Pre-lab Quizzes

Before the labs, the students were required to either take an Open Book Pre-Lab Quiz (ensuring they read the material) or to bring in a completed project (a suture pattern) for assessment. For the project they received full credit as long as it was completed; the instructor gave quick feedback on whether it looked right. I found the students were much better prepared for the labs because they had to review the module information to take the quiz or perform the task. Although each quiz had a deadline of the night before the lab, they could take the quiz anytime after the start of the course, and they got two chances to take it. This reduced their stress and allowed some of them to complete the quizzes early to give them more time for other classes.  

In-person Feedback 

For the tasks, they practiced reading directions and trying techniques on their own, which is a key skill for many professions. As the student showed the completed pattern to a faculty member, they often commented on what they thought of their own work and where they struggled. When a faculty member noted that their suture pattern “looked beautiful”, students physically or verbally expressed pride, excitement, enthusiasm, and contentment.    

Changes in this course required a substantial time commitment; however, many of those changes will be long lasting. The modules and videos for the labs will only require occasional updates in future years. Likely we will keep the quizzes and the pre-lab tasks to make sure the students are prepared.  

Just in Time Teaching Tip: Providing Students the Opportunity to Practice Lab Skills at Home

Just in Time Teaching Tip: Using Canvas to Design Online Labs and Test Student Skills at Home

Just in Time Teaching Tip: Decreasing Face-To-Face Time in the Lab by Providing Students with Kits


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