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Challenges & Solutions for Online Lab Science Courses

Challenges & Solutions for Online Lab Science Courses Peter Jeschofnig, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus Colorado Mountain College, CO Founder of the Institute for Distance Science Education Innovations 2009 Conference Mar. 15 – 18, 2009 Reno, NV Presentation

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Challenges & Solutions for Online Lab Science Courses

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  1. Challenges & Solutionsfor Online Lab Science Courses Peter Jeschofnig, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus Colorado Mountain College, CO Founder of the Institute for Distance Science Education Innovations 2009 Conference Mar. 15 – 18, 2009 Reno, NV

  2. Presentation Part I - Pros & Cons of Online Lab Options Part II - Online vs. On-campus Assessment Comparison Part III - Cheating in Online Courses

  3. Presentation Part I - Pros & Cons of Online Lab Options

  4. Colorado Mountain College

  5. CMC - Glenwood Springs

  6. Colorado Community Colleges Online (CCCOnline)

  7. What About Lab Sciences? • Lab sciences MUST be fully included in online course offerings to avoid a continuing decline in science literacy in America. • There are still many instructors and institutions that do not believe lab sciences can effectively be taught at a distance. • Valid and reliable assessment data is required to dispel this misconception.

  8. Purpose of Science Labs? • Why do we teach laboratory experimentation in science classes? • What are students supposed to learn in the laboratory? • How can these objectives be met at a distance?

  9. Science Labs Consensus Science Educators unanimously agree: • Laboratory experimentation must be part of all science classes • Labs have been the weak link of distance learning science classes

  10. Quotes of Interest “During the next decade, the United States demand for scientists and engineers is expected to increase at more than double the rate for all other occupations.”Michigan Dept. of Education"Learning science is something that students do, not something that is done to them. In learning science students describe objects and events, ask questions, acquire knowledge, construct explanations of natural phenomena, test those explanations in many different ways, and communicate their ideas to others.“National Science Education Standards,NRC 1996, 2006

  11. Philosophical Differences • Simulations vs. Hands-On Labs Kits i.e. Seeing vs. Doing • College Level vs. Basic Concepts i.e. Kitchen Chemistry String and Sticky Tape

  12. Virtual (Online) Science Classes Debate • NY Times -10-06 Sam Dillon “Members of the College Board insist that college-level laboratory science courses not be labeled ‘A.P.’ without a physical lab.” • Hampden-Sydney College, Virginia, Provost, Dr. Fleck said students worldwide found the virtual dissection useful. But he called it “markedly inferior” to performing a real dissection. “You don’t get the look and the feel and the smell.”

  13. Distance Lab Options • Hybrid Labs • Simulations – Virtual Labs • Remote-Access Labs • “Kitchen” Labs • Lab Kits • Instructor Assembled • Student Assembled • Commercially Assembled

  14. Least Desirable Option - Hybrid Hybrid – Combination Online and On campus • Online – Lecture • On campus -Traditional labs 1. Weekly 2. Once-a-month all-day lab sessions at local college or H.S. 3. Several-day long lab workshops All Defeat the Purpose of Distance Learning • Mind-numbing long sessions for students • Loss of distance enrollment for Institution

  15. Simulations vs. Lab Experiences Students Like Simulations: • Easy • Similar to computer games • Low cost BUT – how effective are simulations?

  16. Simulations – Pros & Cons PROS: • Relatively inexpensive • Readily available • Fulfill some lab objectives • Will probably get better, more challenging Summary - useful as part of lab program CONS: • Don’t meet as many lab objectives as lab kits • Missing tactile experience - feel of “doing science” • May not be adequate for science “majors” • Potential problems transferring course credits

  17. Types of Simulations Textbook CD-ROMs Model Science Software Virtual ChemLab Simulators All computer based - No actual “hands-on” experimentation

  18. Textbook CD-ROMs Houghton Mifflin (Ebbing)

  19. Model Science Software (1) http://modelscience.com/

  20. Model Science Software (2)

  21. Virtual ChemLab - BYU

  22. Anatomy Simulation

  23. Aviation Simulator Analogy

  24. Simulations - Caveat • Increasing numbers of 4-year colleges and universities are refusing to accept transfer credits for simulation based labs. • University of Colorado – School of Engineering is the latest institution not accepting transfer credit for simulation-based lab courses based on their evaluation that students without hands-on labs experiences are unsafe and have limited competencies. • American Chemical Society supports this position: In a recent statement it said, “ The Society believes that computer simulations are not a substitute for hands-on laboratories from the kindergarten level through undergraduate education.” (Feb. 2009)

  25. Remote Access Lab Example:Diffraction of Electrons

  26. Kitchen Chemistry Labs PROS: • Provide genuine hands on science activities • Relatescience to the student’s real world • Inexpensive CONS: • Limit sophistication of lab experience • Students don’t respect it as serious science • Require extra time for acquiring supplies and constructing equipment • Lab quality varies from very creative to inadequate Exceptional Kitchen Chemistry Courses • Elmhurst College • UC Denver and Univ. of N. Carolina - FIPSE Grant: “Anytime Anywhere Chemistry Experience”

  27. Kitchen Lab ExampleAnytime Anywhere Chemistry Experience

  28. Assembled Kits Instructor & Student Assembled Kits: • Instructor checks out glassware and equipment • Students buy supplies assigned by instructor • Students return materials and equipment at end of semester PROS: • Relatively inexpensive or not? • Students get a hands-on, wet-lab experience CONS: • Student complain about finding materials • Instructor relegated to “stock boy” chores • Disputes over inevitably lost/broken equipment

  29. Assembled Kits - HistoryThe Open University - UK • Since early 1970’s • Very large science kit – storage problem • $ 1.8 million, 8000 students • Very high annual costs for warehousing, shipping, replacement parts, etc. Challenge – Developing a new kit that is small and non-returnable

  30. Assembled Kits - HistoryMonash University, Australia • Physics kit • Video instructions • Students as far away as Singapore • Kits returned as much as 6 months late • Success - High retention rate

  31. Assembled Kits - HistoryAthabasca University

  32. Assembled Kits – HistoryMicro-Scale Techniques Micro-scale refers to the process of conducting traditional science experiments on a much smaller and safer scale. First introduced into the laboratory by chemistry professor Dr. Hubert Alyea (1903-1996) at Princeton University. Primary objectives: • Greatly reduce safety risk of experimentation • Reduce environmental and chemical disposal problems • Engage students in traditional science experimentation and foster inquiry-based problem solving abilities

  33. Micro-Scale Science EquipmentCentrifuge Tubes - 24-Well and 96-Well Plates - Thin Stem Pipet

  34. Chemistry LabPaqProduced by Hands-On Labs, Inc.

  35. Packaging of Chemicalsby Hands-On Labs, Inc.

  36. Titration MethodsUsed in Hands-On Labs, Inc. LabPaqs

  37. Colorimeter Produced by Hands-On Labs, Inc.

  38. Analysis of Phosphate in Water

  39. Lab Kit Issues • How safe are at-home lab experiments? • What are legal issues for conducting labs in an unsupervised environment? • Are important experiments eliminated because of safety or cost? • Is there compliance with proper waste disposal?

  40. Contact Information Feedback and Suggestions are Welcome! Peter J. Jeschofnig, PhD pjeschofnig@coloradomtn.edu Institute for Excellence in Science Education Peter@IEDSE.orgwww.IEDSE.org

  41. Presentation Part II - Online vs. On-campus Assessment Comparison

  42. Part II - Assessment Comparison Online vs. On-campus Comparison • Colorado Mountain College, CO – CHE 111 • Herkimer County Community College, SUNY System, NY – BIO • Ocean County College, NJ – A & P

  43. Study Objective To quantitatively assess and compare performance of my chemistry students: • In a face-to-face (F2F) chemistry course with an on-campus laboratory and • In an online chemistry (DL) course using a chemistry LabPaq by Hands-On Labs, Inc. for the laboratory component

  44. Process of Assessing Outcomes Administer and Compare Results for Campus-Based CHE 111 Students vs. Online CHE-111 Students: 1. American Chemical Society Standardized Exam • Pre-test • Post-test 2. Traditional homework, quizzes, exam grades 3. Laboratory reports graded via specific rubric

  45. ACS Exam Results: DL vs. F2F

  46. ACS Score Comparisons

  47. Final Exam vs. ACS Exam – F2F

  48. Final Exam vs. ACS Exam – DL

  49. Lab Report Scores Online lab results achieved using biology LabPaq produced by Hands-On Labs, Inc.

  50. Effectiveness of a Web-Based Laboratory Course in BiologyJennifer Herzog, Herkimer County Community College, N.Y Online lab results achieved using biology LabPaq produced by Hands-On Labs, Inc.

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