Exploring the use of virtual laboratory simulations before, during, and post COVID-19 recovery phase: An Animal Biotechnology case study.Biochem Mol Biol Educ. 2021 09; 49(5):685-691.BM
This study presents an evaluation of integrating virtual laboratory simulations in assessment design of a biotechnology course at Taylor's University in Malaysia before, during and post-COVID recovery phases. The purpose was to investigate how virtual laboratory simulations were integrated as part of the assessments of a practical-embedded course-the aim being to evaluate students' acceptance and perception of using virtual simulation. A total of 46 students, across three different study cohorts (August 2019, March 2020, and August 2020) were evaluated different educational aspects of using virtual laboratory cases in a 4-week course within Animal Biotechnology. Overall, students regarded virtual laboratory simulation useful as part of their learning, and there is a significant increase in the level of acceptance before, during and post-COVID recovery phases. The study showed that across the different study cohorts, students perceived their confidence level in laboratory skills have been enhanced and that they can apply the skills in real-life situation. Interestingly, students (March and August 2020 cohort) who have not been exposed to the related laboratory session still perceived that the simulated activity provides clear explanation and realistic experience. Furthermore, it had been highlighted across the study cohorts that the quiz questions helped to enhance their understanding on the underlying principles of the laboratory techniques. The overall conclusion of this study was that structured simulation-based activities which provide clear instructions and explanation would support significant improvements in students learning.