Student Story: Brandy Caton, Catawba Valley Community College

Written by SI • May 30, 2024 •  2 min read
Student Story: Brandy Caton, Catawba Valley Community College Featured Image

Brandy’s Online Lab Experience

Brandy just finished her first semester at Catawba Valley CC. Working full time, she is able to take up to three courses a semester online. Prior to this Anatomy & Physiology course, Brandy had never taken a lab online.

That meant she was unsure of how the course would unfold. But as soon as she received her hands-on kit, she was floored. 

“As a visual learner, it was exciting to see what materials were included and the kinds of experiments we were going to do. The kit was rather impressive…the cow’s eye and brain blew me away!”

At first, Brandy wasn’t sure how the labs would go, but soon realized she had everything she needed. In addition to her instructor’s guidance, the instructions were clear, the lab aligned well with the lecture, the included media was helpful, and the best part of all, she ‘never got stuck.’

“Using the lab management platform also helped me understand the complex concepts. I was able to re-read and repeat different parts of each lab. It was easy to use and had built-in resources like the microscope, giving me everything I needed at my fingertips.”

????Light Bulb Moment????

I learn in a very visual way, and I wouldn’t not have done as well as I did in this course if we didn’t do hands-on labs. I read the chapters, took the notes, and then when I did the experiments, it reinforced what I had read. For example, for one of the labs, I was able to put my hands on the muscles we were studying to really feel and scope them out. I wouldn’t have been able to do that in just the virtual simulation, so I think people would miss out a lot if they didn’t have the hands-on part. The simulation isn’t that much different from the textbook; the hands-on takes it to a whole other level.

“In the end, the hands-on aspect of this course helped me learn more. Just being able to take the time to put together the muscles on the skeleton or seeing the cow’s eyeball and brains – having that experience now — it almost feels like a disservice to students who don’t have this experience in their online labs. We can all see things on the computer and look them up on YouTube. But being able to do the experiment brings it to life.”

My Most Memorable Lab: Senses
“The cow’s eyeball experiment was probably the most memorable for me. The reason I say that is because it’s just incredible when you think about how our bodies are wired. Just seeing all the different layers of the eyeball and getting to open that up and really have that visual allowed for a deeper understanding. You can read something, but then to see it firsthand is a deeper form of learning.”
(During the hands-on Senses lab, students dissect a cow eye to identify structures like the vitreous body, lens and retina.)

Drawing Conclusions

Like any good experiment, you work your way through the scientific method to analyze the results, reflect on your findings, and draw your conclusions so you can move forward with new knowledge and ideas. 

So now that you’re at the end of your online lab course, tell us: what did you learn and what advice might you give after your experience?

BE EXCITED! Even if it’s your first online lab course, just know that there’s nothing to worry about because you have excellent guidance, support, and resources to work from, including your instructor who wants you to be successful. Be sure to set aside dedicated time AND then take your time going through the experiments so you don’t feel rushed. You’ll end up on a really exciting science journey!”

Brandy Caton