Physiology educators’ attitudes, experiences and recommendations after an abrupt transition to remote laboratories

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

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting Abstractpeer-review


The COVID-19 pandemic has been associated with university lockdowns, forcing physiology educators to pivot laboratories into a remote delivery format. This study documents the experiences of ten physiology educators from Australia, Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. as they rapidly transitioned to remote laboratories in March-July, 2020. They wrote reflective narratives that explored their experiences and attitudes about virtual laboratories before, during and after the transition to remote delivery. Thematic analysis of the reflections found that before COVID-19, few of the educators had utilized virtual laboratories, with most believing that virtual laboratories could not replace the in-person laboratory experience. In response to university lockdowns, the educators transitioned from traditional on-campus, in-person laboratories to off-campus, remote laboratories within a week or less. This transition was mainly achieved by using commercially available online laboratory software, home-made videos and sample experimental data (collected before COVID-19). Opportunities associated with the remote transition included new collaborations (local and international), the exploration of unfamiliar technologies and revisiting the laboratory course curriculum and structure. However, the experience also generated challenges including excessive workloads, lack of expertise, disparities in online and workspace access, academic integrity issues, educator/student stress, changes in learning outcomes and a perceived reduction in student engagement (particularly due to the loss of educator-student and student-student interactions). Despite these challenges, most of the educators planned on retaining successful aspects of the remote laboratories post-pandemic, particularly with a blended model of remote and in-person (on-campus) laboratories. This study concludes with recommendations and practical strategies for physiology educators as to how they can plan, develop, deliver and assess effective remote laboratories.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
JournalThe FASEB Journal
Issue numberS1
Publication statusPublished - May 2021

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