Online Chemistry Course Shines Thanks to Carolina Distance Learning® Hands-On Lab Kit and Carolina Online Gateway

by Carolina Distance Learning Staff

Dr. Lisa Nagy has been teaching college-level chemistry for more than a decade.

Dr. Lisa Nagy got started teaching undergraduate chemistry classes during her own graduate school program. After graduating with a Ph.D. in organic chemistry, Nagy continued teaching at the college level and joined Jefferson State Community College (JSCC) in 2011.

In 2021, a longtime JSCC professor retired, and Nagy took over the online CHM 104 Introduction to Chemistry course, which is a survey of general chemistry for students who do not intend to major in science or engineering. The course is popular with students in nursing, forestry, and other programs that require a basic understanding of general chemistry.

Dr. Nagy’s first step was to revisit the course curriculum, lab requirements, and the previously used lab kit. She was familiar with Carolina Distance Learning® lab kits, so she visited the Carolina website to see what labs and lab kits were available for her course.

Nagy found that the Ready-to-Ship (RTS) lab kit Introduction to Chemistry contained eight labs that aligned perfectly with the course’s curriculum. She reviewed the included labs and found them to be appropriately challenging, yet easy to understand, a necessary balance for this online survey course.

The RTS kit was more affordable than the previous kit, which also pleased Nagy since the college’s chemistry department is committed to making its online courses affordable. Opting for the RTS kit helped the department provide students with a cost-effective hands-on lab experience.

Integration of the RTS kit went smoothly, Nagy reports, “thanks in part to the thorough instructions and quality materials.” The students enjoy the labs and are successful in completing and learning them. Two of their favorite labs are “Separation of Mixtures” and “Chemical Reactions.”

When the Carolina Online Gateway became available, students received even more support for their labs. The Gateway provides digital resources that enhance the user experience for teachers and students using Carolina Distance Learning® lab kits. These resources include:

  • Experimental design roadmaps that help students understand what they will be doing as they work through the hands-on investigation
  • Overview videos that facilitate student mastery of key lab techniques
  • Knowledge checks and pre-lab assessments that verify student understanding, give feedback to review important concepts, and gate activities for safety
  • Digital lab notebooks that students use to record, analyze, and submit lab results directly within the platform

When Nagy piloted the new Gateway, she was pleased to find the materials well written and easy to follow. This was also evidenced by her students’ increased understanding of the labs when using the Gateway tools. “Some students jump right into the experiment without taking the time to read the lab background and instructions,” she explains, “which results in those students having a lot of questions about the lab.” The Gateway’s pre-lab work and knowledge checks require students to understand the lab before they begin the hands-on work. As a result, Nagy reports that “the number of lab questions I get from students is substantially lower thanks to the Gateway tools.”

Curriculum-aligned kit, quality hands-on labs, and online learning tools, all at a student-friendly price. It’s no wonder that Dr. Nagy is thrilled, and that her students are excelling!

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