ASU offers hands-on lab experiences for online students at scale
Record number of students enrolled in online courses at the School of Molecular Sciences
This summer, Arizona State University’s School of Molecular Sciences delivered in-person classes to a record 540 registered online students, who took lab-based courses in organic chemistry, biochemistry, and analytical chemistry in a specially designed, condensed and immersive.
These courses give students the hands-on experience with the equipment and laboratory procedures they need for their careers.
“I apply to medical schools, and one of the first things they ask me is if I have research experience and if I’ve been in a lab and done my own experiments,” said Febronya Oraha, pre-med student.
Biomedical sciences major Erica Williams echoed that sentiment.
“Medical colleges and graduate schools want to see hands-on lab experience, so this program will strengthen my applications,” she said.
“We started these labs in 2018 with two courses and about 50 students, but we already knew the challenge would be whether we could successfully scale the programs,” said Ian Gould, a professor in the School of Molecular Sciences. and Associate Dean of Online and Digital Education. innovation at school. “We now have six courses, serve 10 times as many students and look forward to next summer which will be even bigger.”
In addition to the original General Organic Chemistry Lab courses, offerings now include Elementary Organic Chemistry Lab, Elementary Biochemistry Lab, Analytical Biochemistry Lab, and Analytical Chemistry Lab. With a new Basic Physical Chemistry Lab course that allows students to remotely control the operation of instrumentation and experiments, online students now have access to a wide range of hands-on chemistry and biochemistry experiments.
Students traveled to the Tempe campus from across the country, with some students serving in the military coming from East Asia and the program’s first international student arriving from Central Asia.
Many students were also part of ASU’s corporate partnership programs, including Starbucks, LabCorp, and Uber.
The labs welcome students from a wide range of disciplines, including molecular sciences, biological sciences, forensics, justice studies, business, and psychology.
Students seeking online degrees often work full-time and have to use vacation time to attend; however, most agree that the in-person experience is worth the time and expense.
“The condensed lab format was both hectic and enjoyable,” said Michael Mazzitello, a supervisor at a Minnesota nuclear power plant. “Coming here was an investment, but it’s worth it. My experience will allow me to merge theoretical knowledge with practical experience and learning. I will apply what I learned here to my work.
“The labs allow me to apply what we’ve learned online in real-world practice,” said Stephanie Sutton, a biochemistry student in Anaheim, Calif., and Starbucks Scholar. “You can’t be a scientist without doing science experiments.”
In addition to the lab experience, online students say they also appreciate the benefits of meeting and networking with peers and ASU professors, whom they have previously only known virtually.
“I’ve had a blast since I’ve been here; I connected with so many people. It’s really cool to see my teachers in person too,” biochemistry Major Noah Hogan said.
AFTER: ASU Online student startup organization grows to be one of the largest college clubs
“I enjoyed interacting with such a diverse group of students during the summer labs this year,” said Orenda Griffin, Head of Online Programs at the Faculty of Molecular Sciences. “Helping students with this unique opportunity to achieve their dreams of becoming a scientist is so rewarding. Watching students make their Sun Devil experience real and meaningful while here on campus is truly a privilege.
“The non-traditional approach of allowing online students to conduct in-person experiments is one of the main reasons I love running the School of Molecular Sciences’ online programs.”
Bryan Lozada, of Gilbert, Arizona, says he looks forward to a career in pharmacology.
“Almost everything I do here, whether it’s using a micropipette or other lab equipment, and learning how to conduct myself safely and professionally in a lab, is something I I will need in my career. I work full time and couldn’t have graduated without ASU Online,” he said.
See more photos from the summer lab and learn more about the school’s online programs.
Get to know former students online and hear about their experience in the video below:
Video of the School of Molecular Sciences respects its students online
Top photo: Undergraduate students Sadie Grossman (left) and Leah Hendley in the organic chemistry lab class, summer 2022. Photo courtesy of Mary Zhu/SMS