International educators' attitudes, experiences, and recommendations after an abrupt transition to remote physiology laboratories

Julia Choate, Nancy Aguilar-Roca, Elizabeth Beckett, Sarah Etherington, Michelle French, Voula Gaganis, Charlotte Haigh, Derek Scott, Terrence Sweeney, John Zubek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


The COVID-19 pandemic triggered university lockdowns, forcing physiology educators to rapidly pivot laboratories into a remote delivery format. This study documents the experiences of an international group of 10 physiology educators surrounding this transition. They wrote reflective narratives, framed by guiding questions, to answer the research question: "What were the changes to physiology laboratories in response to the COVID-19 pandemic?" These narratives probed educators' attitudes toward virtual laboratories before, during, and after the transition to remote delivery. Thematic analysis of the reflections found that before COVID-19 only a few respondents had utilized virtual laboratories and most felt that virtual laboratories could not replace the in-person laboratory experience. In response to university lockdowns, most respondents transitioned from traditional labs to remote formats within a week or less. The most common remote delivery formats were commercially available online physiology laboratories, homemade videos, and sample experimental data. The main challenges associated with the rapid remote transition included workload and expertise constraints, disparities in online access and workspaces, issues with academic integrity, educator and student stress, changes in learning outcomes, and reduced engagement. However, the experience generated opportunities including exploration of unfamiliar technologies, new collaborations, and revisiting the physiology laboratory curriculum and structure. Most of the respondents reported planning on retaining some aspects of the remote laboratories postpandemic, particularly with a blended model of remote and on-campus laboratories. This study concludes with recommendations for physiology educators as to how they can successfully develop and deliver remote laboratories.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)310-321
Number of pages12
JournalAdvances in Physiology Education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 16 Apr 2021


  • COVID-19
  • laboratory
  • remote
  • virtual

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