4 Components of a Successful Microbiology Lab Practical

Ginelle Testa

Microbiology lab practicals can include culture techniques, stains, microorganisms and so much more. You’ve got the ideas and materials on hand, but how do you execute a successful microbiology lab practical? Here are some components to help students succeed:

1. Prep students for safety

Lab safety is important to prevent infection and refrain from being hurt by chemicals. Microbeonline outlined a number of safety concerns for microbiology labs, here are five:

  1. When handling chemicals, note the hazard code on the bottle and take the appropriate precautions indicated

  2. Work surfaces must be disinfected before and after use

  3. Return all chemicals, reagents, cultures, and glassware to their appropriate places

  4. Dispose of wastes in their proper containers 

  5. Never pipette anything by mouth, always use pipetting devices

Labster’s Biosafety simulation preps students for safer practical labs. Students will become familiar with the basic protocols utilized to ensure safety and will learn about how every part of the laboratory is designed to avoid contamination.


2. Prepare students for success in their microbiology lab practical

Use your teaching method of choice: lectures, videos, interactive simulations, or whatever you use to help prepare students for a successful lab practical. They’ll be testing their knowledge and there are many tools available to help them pass with flying colors. 

With virtual labs, students can go through the practical topics to better understand them before diving in during the class lab. Many instructors use Labster as a pre-lab tool to better prepare students for success when it comes time to do the wet lab. For example, get your students familiar with Gram Stains in advance by assigning our simulation: Explore Building Gram Positive and Gram Negative Cell Walls Virtual Lab Simulation


3. Set up stations

After you identify the stations you'll use, choose the corresponding virtual lab from the Labster catalog or course picker in your LMS. Choose questions students will have to answer at each station, and the amount of time students have to answer each question. 

Using virtual labs to supplement practical labs can mean that students have access to learnings they would otherwise only read about in a textbook. For example, Labster has a “Genetic Transfer in Bacteria” simulation where humanity is in grave danger due to powerful antibiotics becoming ineffective in the treatment of multi-resistant bacteria, also called superbugs. In this simulation, students learn how to prevent a global pandemic. You could use this lab in addition to your other stations. 


4. Identify & assess learning gaps

Not all students will pass the microbiology lab practical with high grades. Naturally there will be gaps where more instruction is needed. When you’re wrapping up your assessment of your students’ progress, identify places where they are consistently missing the mark. This will help you know what to give more attention to in the future. 

With Labster’s virtual labs, quiz grading is done automatically and is delivered right to your LMS platform. You can easily assess learning gaps by seeing what questions many students are struggling with. You’re able to see how many times students attempted questions and the time taken to complete the simulation.

Key takeaways:

The four components of a successful microbiology lab practical are:

  1. Prep students for safety

  2. Help them prepare for success in the lab practical

  3. Set up stations

  4. Assess & identify learning gaps

Questions to consider:

  • What have you found to make your microbiology lab practical successful?

  • How could you use Labster to supplement your lab practical?

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