Assistant Professor USC Upstate Spartanburg, South Carolina, United States
Anita Nag (USC Upstate)
The virtual learning platform created a challenging setting for the students to experience a collaborative learning environment that is both stimulating and demanding. At the same time, the inability to conduct hands-on experiments often deters students from doing these laboratories virtually. To address these challenges, I incorporated a primarily computer-based biochemistry laboratory that studies the structure-function relationship of a protein of severe respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV). This laboratory, mostly conducted using the Blackboard Collaborate platform, allows students to engage with each other to learn to use various computer-based modeling software and understand the dynamic structure of a protein related to the current pandemic. In this laboratory, students continuously orient themselves with current literature, conduct multiple studies using web-based tools, and present a hypothesis that could be experimentally verified through optional in-person laboratory sessions. Students design and execute a series of in-person laboratories that can address the hypothesis developed by computational modeling. Students also participate in written and oral presentations to conclude their findings. Using multiple surveys throughout the semester, we monitored student growth and interest in a project-based laboratory.