Best Ways to Maximize Face-to-Face Time in Anatomy and Physiology Labs…
The hands-on experience of anatomy and physiology labs was essentially shut down during the pandemic. Now, as schools begin to plan for the fall, you may find you have more options besides all digital that include getting back in the lab again.
Anatomy and Physiology Lab Topics Are Consistent
HAPS learning objectives have been influential in determining what topics are taught in A&P labs. While depth and coverage may vary, especially when course lengths differ, the basic topics are similar from course to course. This “governing structure” has made it fairly straightforward for lab managers and course coordinators to organize their syllabus, and with what to cover outlined, one of the next challenges is how to teach the lab – what is the right mix of materials to use to cover the course topics appropriately.
There Are Several Ways of Teaching Labs
The topic often dictates the teaching approach. Some labs naturally lend themselves to a hands-on-style and can be taught with the help of models and other interactives. Other labs can be more challenging and require a unique set up. However they are taught, the lab setting has always been a critical piece of the instructional equation and an important part of the student experience.
Other elements we have seen as part of the lab include:
- Pre-lab and post-lab activities
- Data recordings
- Lab groups working together
And, of course, instructor guidance over everything.
Even before the pandemic, wet labs had their challenges. Space limitations might be at the top of that list. Unlike lecture halls, labs are uniquely designed and often require expensive materials like microscopes, models and in some cases cadavers to run. Most campuses have limited lab space, which makes it paramount to run labs as efficiently as possible. Fall 2021 will most likely be especially challenging as enrollments at many schools are expected to rise and in-person lab budgets are either frozen or reduced.
Ideas for Addressing the New Normal
Online learning was able to break the binds of time and space. Set Lecture times in specific locations were replaced with on-demand lectures and access-from-anywhere asynchronous course materials. Despite some of the environmental drawbacks to this teaching and learning style, the courses soldiered on during the pandemic. However, lab courses weren’t so easy to migrate fully online. Even with professional third-party tools and LMS the tactile, real-world experience could not be replicated.
How Do You Maximize Lab Space While Delivering an Embodied Lab Experience?
It begins with analyzing how you are spending your time in the lab. Can any of what you are doing in the lab be covered outside of the lab? Another way of looking at it, are you maximizing the lab resources, the models, the microscopes, the unique lab station setups?
Lab audits reveal that some lab time is spent lecturing, covering housekeeping matters, and other essential items to the course, but not so essential that the lab is the only place they could be addressed.
Labs (Partially) Online
Here are some of the items you can move out of the lab room and not compromise your course, and at the same time make your students happy as well as your chair (more efficient use of space allows more students to cycle through labs and pleases students/parents who demand that in-person experience).
- Pre-labs – Move them online, have them automatically graded and the results compiled for you prior to the lab. This can reduce the amount of time spent “pre-lab lecturing”
- Videos – Incorporate your own or use third-party offering. Students like short to-the-point videos. Adding a question or two after the videos is a great way to increase understanding and drive compliance.
- Record Time On Task – Students will have to go out of their way to game it, and you can have metrics on how often and how long students access specific materials.
- Quizzing and Testing – You don’t have to hope they aren’t cheating anymore when they are out of your sight through quizzing tools like timed and algorithmic questions.
- Post-lab – Spending the last part of a lab having students rush through results and write up a report may not be the best way to cap a lab. Think of moving these out of the lab and online. You can still compel a quick turnaround for their submittal.
Digital Lab Tools That Make Sense
- Models have appropriately been a mainstay of the face-to-face lab, but there are limitations to the models, most notably that you have to be in the lab to access them. Platforms offering 2D and 3D models offer students the chance to study body parts outside of the lab.
- Leverage the power of digital to further enhance the student study experience. Digital flashcards, whiteboards for students to draw, label & upload, and comprehension questions sprinkled throughout the lessons that can even guide students to the right answers give students even more valuable tools for learning.
- Manual grading requires precious time that may be better spent prepping for lab and working with the students. Many digital platforms offer at least some auto grading capabilities, and some will even link directly into your LMS gradebook.
- Help students think for themselves but support their efforts by using algorithmic questions for varied and repetitive quizzing, allowing hints as students work through problems, and providing timed feedback to their work. The metrics generated by the students as they complete their assignments allow instructors to see how far students are getting in their work, how long it is taking them, and which questions are easy or difficult. This useful information can be used to re-address a topic, reword questions, and provide detailed feedback to students.
- A wide range of question-types including drag and drop, sorting, partial credit, and including allowable spelling variations keep assessments lively yet fair. Essay questions that can be graded question-by-question rather than student-by-student allow the instructor to compare responses immediately, which lead to faster, fairer grading.
You can construct your labs to take advantage of the perks of digital while enhancing your students’ and instructors’ overall lab experience. The tools are there for you to take advantage of both worlds. You only need to leverage them.
LabRight, an all-in-one seamless digital platform, is ideal because it is customizable and offers simple, lab-specific digital tools. We set it all up for you and provide training. LabRight turns the challenges you’re facing into new teaching and learning opportunities. LabRight is so flexible it can be used for face-to-face, virtual or hybrid labs, and is ideal for pre-, in- or post-lab work.
Contact Us (419-733-7951) For More Information!
Van-Griner Learning is a full-service, affordable, publisher of digital and print solutions. We unlock the power of publishing by designing affordable digital and print solutions to meet your specific needs. We provide Labs, Textbooks, Worktext, Homework, OER, Readers, Courseware and more!
> Learn More