Learning about experiments through virtual lab classes is tough for students


Kuruzovich, CC BY 3.0 | Wikimedia Commons

Tillmar Sherrill

After CUNY had shut down in-person classes seven months ago, studying has changed tremendously, especially when it comes to science laboratory classes.

Not only does online learning require science students to study on their own semi-blindly, it also requires them to perform experiments at home.

Performing lab experiments might not necessarily seem as difficult as lecture classes, such as chemistry and biology, where students partake in virtual laboratories. However, students aren’t retaining the information that is being distributed in these virtual lab classes.

Students who might be taking these classes for future graduate-level education for their career fields might not understand how to perform these experiments at home, since what they’ve learned is theorized.

In-person labs, on the other hand, help students have the ability to test their theoretical knowledge from the lectures with real data. It also helps students to familiarize themselves with the equipment and terminologies that is being used in their classes.

Likewise, some students are also struggling with being able to speak and maintain their professional relationship with their professors for future recommendations, jobs or medical school or job applications.

This may seem a bit impossible to accomplish now, since students and professors aren’t necessarily seeing or getting to know one another face to face this semester.

Virtual learning is a hassle since students must essentially teach themselves for longer periods of time since it is hard to grasp the intensive workload from their classes.

Everything feels more fast paced and catching up with the workload is sometimes difficult. Students end up having to balance the role of being both the teacher and the student, when they have no idea if they’re doing things correctly until their work is graded.

Though virtual labs may come in handy by providing a way for students to redo their experiments, sometimes it isn’t necessarily understood why something is wrong.

Having a professor explain where or how you went wrong with something is extremely important. Students must assume when they have completed their task incorrectly, and this increases the chances of them having to redo the experiment all over again.

Without physically being in a lab class, students miss out on learning how to work within the environment. They should be able to understand how to physically perform an experiment instead of just doing virtual simulations.

The best way to deal with this issue would be to allow in-person science classes for lab science majors, when campuses reopen. These classes require in-person communication to comprehend the topics.

This will help science students form better connections with their professors. Professors should also scale back on the amount of work they assign. This will help alleviate the stress students are experiencing, especially for those who also juggling jobs and other responsibilities during the pandemic.