As a professor teaching biochemistry to non-biochemist students in a lecture only course, Dr. Kambiz Hamadani, Associate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at California State University, was looking for a way to make his classes more engaging and easier to understand for his students.
He wanted to improve his teaching and increase student achievement of course learning outcomes by means of new and innovative teaching methods, and for that reason, he sought out Labster to see how he could integrate a few of the virtual lab simulations in his courses. He quickly found that the virtual labs helped his students understand the content better, and helped him overcome several barriers he was experiencing in his course:
“Labster helped open the doors to a more inquiry based style of presenting the content, because the students were exploring. They were walking around in a virtual lab, messing up, making mistakes, and learning from those mistakes. This is something that you typically can’t do all that well in a hands-on lab, where you have a fixed amount of time, fixed amount of resources, and safety concerns have to come into the equation.”
Read on to learn how Dr. Hamadani used Labster in his course, and how it helped him increase student achievement of course learning outcomes.
Before Dr. Hamadani tried Labster, there were three areas in particular that he believed could benefit from novel teaching methods:
In his General Biochemistry class, a lecture-only course offered to primarily non-biochemistry majors as a requirement, Dr. Hamadani found that he needed a way to increase engagement among his students. He wanted to not only make the difficult topics easier to learn, but also to find a way to increase general interest in the subject, and make the classes more exciting.
Dr. Hamadani tried to bring together the content that his students had previously learned in their undergraduate biology and chemistry classes in his General Biochemistry class, but since it is a one-semester course with a lot of content to cover, he found it difficult to cover all the relevant material. Dr. Hamadani tested the option of flipping the classroom, and although that did help to some extent, there still wasn’t enough time in the semester to cover everything.
Due to the lack of a lab section for General Biochemistry, the students got no hands-on experience, making it difficult for them to grasp complex methods, tools and concepts. This made the course a challenge to teach. Dr. Hamadani wanted to use Labster to give the students more of an applied feel for the techniques that were taught in his class, and teach them how the concepts they were learning could be applied.
Dr. Hamadani started using Labster’s virtual labs, mainly Enzyme Kinetics, in his General Biochemistry class to help students get practical experience with concepts and techniques, which solidified their understanding of course content.
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