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Case Studies

Teaching Nursing Students with Virtual Microbiology Labs

West Coast University

Nursing students at West Coast University’s Dallas campus use Labster virtual simulations to master microbiology concepts. Dr. Luning He and 12 of her colleagues selected eight core simulations to integrate into their microbiology curricula. After teaching with Labster both online and in-person, He says that students are achieving better subject mastery and her peer instructors are saving more time.

Read to learn more about:

  • How Labster helps nursing students master microbiology
  • Which Labster microbiology simulations are being used 
  • What instructors have to gain from implementing Labster

“Labster simulations have a positive impact on student engagement and course completion, based on the verbal feedback I received from my students and on their lab grades."

Dr. Luning He



West Coast University

Dr. Luning He and the entire microbiology department at West Coast University’s new Dallas campus chose to embed eight Labster virtual simulations in their curricula for online, in-person, and hybrid course formats. Their aim was to use virtual simulations for both pre-lab and post-lab learning for nursing students. After using Labster, He reports that her nursing students have been able to retain more knowledge and develop a more complete understanding of the material.


Primarily focused on offering healthcare degrees, WCU offers students the choice to learn online or in person, depending on their needs. When they discovered Labster, the microbiology department was seeking an experiential virtual lab tool to support asynchronous, online learning as well as provide flexibility to supplement and reinforce instruction of microbiology students who take courses in-person.

Microbiology simulations used:

• Bacterial Cell Structures: An introduction to the bacterial cell

• Bacterial Growth Curves: Experiment with bacterial growth

• Bacterial Isolation

• Genetic Transfer in Bacteria: Prevent the rise of superbugs!

• Identification of Unknown Bacteria: Help save baby Kuppelfangs from an epidemic!

• Introduction to Immunology: Explore the immune system and save the world!

• The Gram Stain: Identify and differentiate bacteria

• Control of Microbial Growth: Explore decontamination and selective toxicity

How it’s used

Luning He now assigns the simulations to prepare students for in-person labs and to help them study for midterm exams. If students are unable to access the wet lab, she assigns them to play the corresponding virtual lab and grades students on their quiz answers. He also assigns Labster simulations for pre-lab study. WCU instructors who teach online courses use Labster as a graded lab replacement.

Dr. Luning He’s Observations

“Labster simulations have a positive impact on student engagement and course completion, based on the verbal feedback I received from my students and on their lab grades,” He says. “Even in our hybrid classes, those simulations provide additional information such as definitions and examples besides our on-ground experiments. It is a perfect supplemental material that helps my students gain well-rounded knowledge.”

There are many advantages for students, she says, including access to additional supplemental science resources and the trial-and-error flexibility within each simulation. “The student can try many times to get a better score. And this repetition can help them remember the lab better,” He says.

When students get an answer wrong, Labster provides a detailed explanation about why the answer is wrong, which allows the student to learn from their mistake in real time. “Even if they do it wrong the first time, they learn and they correct it. This is how the learning process should be,” she says.

Recommending Labster

He regularly recommends Labster to her peers because it benefits instructors as well as students. “It’s convenient for instructors because the grades are automatically posted to our grade board [Canvas and Blackboard].” Labster provides instructors with meaningful feedback about students’ quiz attempts, she says, which allows her to focus her time on other priority work.

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