The primary goal with the simulations is to increase engagement of the students and see an increase in their performance in lab exercises. Originally, it was planned to use the simulations as a pre-lab exercise worth 5% of the students overall lab grade. This was changed to a 3% bonus exercise as a result of the faculty strike and condensed winter schedule. As a result, comparisons with previous lab groups were not compiled. However, the project is considered successful since the majority of the feedback from the students who participated was positive.
The team was made up of Emma Durand (head of Customer Success) and Samuel Butcher (scientific collaboration specialist) at Labster and Margaret Carter and Chuck Ewart at Lambton College. Chuck Ewart set up the Labster simulations and Design2Learn (D2L) surveys. Chuck communicated with the instructors and students via the message feature in Labster as well as D2L news items. Chuck visited each lecture section to communicate what was required of the students in order for them to complete the Labster simulation and the associated D2L survey. Chuck also answered students’ questions and directed them to the Labster team for technical inquiries.
The students were asked to complete the simulations before each associated lab and participate in the D2L survey. There was one instructor (Chuck Ewart) and 100 students in the 2018W CHM-2106 lab course. The students were asked to complete the simulations as a bonus experience. The majority of the students who participated favoured the Labster experience.
One educator (Chuck Ewart) participated, along with 22 students in Titration, 19 in Acids and Bases, and 19 in Equilibrium. The virtual labs were used three times. The majority of students responded “completely agree” or “mostly agree” to the D2L survey statements (see the statements in the next section, below), indicating that they liked the virtual labs. Students with technical issues were sent to Labster technical support. Generally, the overall experience with training, orientation, and support for the virtual labs was positive.
D2L surveys were set up for each of the three simulations. Eleven statements were chosen with response choices (“completely agree,” “mostly agree,” “mostly disagree,” and “completely disagree”).
The statements and responses were modified from a journal article by Bonde et al. (2014):
- I was satisfied with the overall experience of this simulation.
- It is a good idea to use Labster before using a real laboratory.
- I would like Labster to be used more in teaching.
- Labster can be a good supplement to regular laboratory teaching.
- I learned something for the laboratory by using Labster.
- Labster is more motivating than ordinary pre-lab exercises.
- Labster makes course content more interesting by working with practical examples.
- The experience with Labster inspired me to engage more with the laboratory.
- It was interesting to use Labster.
- I would recommend Labster to be used in the laboratory.
- The following amount would be reasonable for Labster access.
The majority of students who participated favoured the Labster experience.
At this time, with uncertainty regarding pricing, there are no plans to integrate the Labster simulations into the lab curriculum. The overall student experience was positive indicating that Labster could be integrated; however, participation was less than desired. A full uninterrupted year would allow for better planning and implementation of Labster simulations and D2L survey results .
- Having an entire semester and the Labster simulations count as a graded item (and not a bonus item) would be useful in the future.
Bonde, M., Makransky, G., Wandall, J., Larsen, M. V., Morsing, M., Jarmer, H. Ø., & Sommer, M. (2014). Improving biotech education through gamified laboratory simulations. Nature Biotechnology, 32, 694-697. doi: 10.1038/nbt.2955.