Why Moving Pre- and Post-Labs Online Can Enhance the In-Lab Experience…
What our work with instructors has shown us is that the advantages of moving pre- and post- labs online can be powerful.
Problems With Traditional Labs
The traditional approach for the pre-lab combines readings followed by problems. There are a couple of realities that undercut this practice…
- Students will fly through/skip the reading and try and work the problems out without understanding the goals of the lab.
- Cheating is hard to curtail. With each student getting the same problem, answers can easily be copied. Hallway cheating right before in-person labs is prevalent. Yet trying to stay one step ahead by changing the lab every semester or every year is time consuming.
- Many labs are taught by TAs who are new to teaching. The quality/thoroughness of pre-lab instruction might vary from section to section.
- A good bit of precious lab time is wasted with recitation and lab instruction in the lab.
- Collecting, grading and handing back reams of paper. (Enough said.)
Advantages To a Digital Pre-Lab
With a digital pre-lab you have several advantages…
- You can integrate videos and video questions.
- Using video is helpful for a number of reasons:
- Students are more likely to watch videos.
- You can measure how long each student watches a video. Or works on a question associated with the video.
- Video is an excellent way to ensure all students are getting a similar pre-lab experience. For instance, we work with a lab manager who wanted all of the students in all of his sections to know who he was and wanted all of his students to receive exactly the same pre-lab instruction. He videotaped himself giving Power Point lectures. The student sees video of the lab manager sitting above the Power Point slides so they become familiar with what he looks like and his voice. (So if they see him passing through lab or in the hallway they’ll know who he is.) The slides are timed to his lecture. The lecture is transcribed under the presentation and organized by running time so the student can read through the lecture or find a specific passage they want to review.
- Creating or using existing videos is much easier to do with today’s software.
- Your pre-lab questions can be algorithmic, ensuring that each student is getting a different question, and you can require all answers be submitted well in advance, limiting “hallway cheating.”
- You can even require that students complete their pre-lab assessments and even more, that they score at least a certain percentage on it as a pre-requisite to attending lab. If students are prepared and ready to go at lab time, recitations and pre-lab in-person instruction can be whittled away to bare-bone minimum.
- No need to collect papers or grade. Everything is done automatically, saving precious time and energy. Instructors can now focus on putting on labs.
- BONUS, with pre-lab answers graded and statistically displayed, it is easy to see and focus on concepts students are struggling with. Instructors can focus on those pain points in pre-lab. Another effective use of the digital technology is being able to immediately pull up a student’s digital responses during office hours. No more abstract talk about a student’s progress. It’s right there for both to see.
Post-labs Benefit from a Digital Component
Post-lab work can be submitted digitally and graded automatically, too. With a digital post-lab, you can also hold back answers until all labs have been submitted. Also, lab reports can be uploaded, and graded as a group – quickly and easily checking lab partners’ answers. Other good reasons to consider digital post-labs include:
- An easy way to provide feedback to the student.
- Integration of student grades into your gradebook on your LMS.
Van-Griner’s LabRight: Face-to-Face, Virtual or Hybrid Lab Solution
While uncertainty in your learning environment isn’t immediately going away, you can rely on LabRight to provide you a flexible, affordable, digital solution. And when labs meet in-person again, Van-Griner Learning and LabRight are there to make the changes so you don’t have to re-invent your lab. For example, if your resources aren’t at the same level as they were prior to the pandemic, LabRight can assist by making your wet labs more efficient through:
- Virtual labs, especially for labs that don’t necessarily require face-to-face time
- Pre- and post-lab preparation and grading tools
Wherever your labs end up, we’ll work with you on the transition.
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