Using virtual reality laboratories to improve engagement and understanding for wet laboratory practical sessions

Coleman, S.K., Smith, C.L. and Ferrier, C. 2018. Using virtual reality laboratories to improve engagement and understanding for wet laboratory practical sessions. Society for Experimental Biology: Masters of Biology. Florence, Italy 03 - 06 Jul 2018

TitleUsing virtual reality laboratories to improve engagement and understanding for wet laboratory practical sessions
AuthorsColeman, S.K., Smith, C.L. and Ferrier, C.
TypeConference paper
Abstract

University of Westminster has a large entry intake into its various Bioscience degree pathways. Incoming students have a wide range of entry qualifications and laboratory experience. Practical sessions are expensive and take time and often require students to work in groups. Further, many current cutting edge biological techniques are often too time consuming or too expensive to run as a large scale taught practical session. To try to improve student confidence and engagement in actual practical classes we have made a range of virtual laboratory simulations available to the students. Thus, the virtual laboratory is used to provide context and as an alternative learning experience to the theory taught in class.
The aim of this study is to evaluate if such virtual simulations promote student learning; and whether the rationale for academic staff deployment of such resources align with student reasons for utilizing.
Virtual laboratory simulations have been embedded into a number of foundation, undergraduate and post-graduate modules, for both formative and summative assessment. Students self-reported that the simulations improved understanding through survey responses. We report how this questionnaire data is enriched with qualitative data from small group interviews from students, these have focused on on student engagement and whether these virtual laboratory simulations have enhanced learning. Moreover, we examine the student reasons for engaging with, or not, such resources.

Keywordsvirtual laboratory
biochemistry
simulations
biology
Year2018
ConferenceSociety for Experimental Biology: Masters of Biology
Accepted author manuscriptAbstract for SEB conference July 2018.pdf

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