Leading in Crisis Science Edition

Leading in Crisis: Science Edition

When I can’t see you, I’ve no idea what you’ve not understood: Prof. Sandra

Though initially not ‘tech-savvy’, Professor Sandra has managed her way through the pandemic and gradually mastered the skill of teaching Biochemistry online. She has been in the teaching field for a good twenty-seven years and doesn’t miss the physical classroom much. She ensures her sessions with the students remain interactive and that everybody in the class participates. Given the online medium, the teacher remains “blissfully unaware” of the distractions in a typical classroom such as that of the students talking or checking their phone. They might be doing the same behind the screens, but she can’t see it and thus the distractions don’t hinder her flow of teaching.

As much as she cannot see the students chit-chatting, she cannot gauge the student’s understanding either apart from the assignments they submit and the exams they attend. In most online sessions it is most likely only the professor who has their camera on. Students very rarely turn on theirs. “When I can’t see you, I’ve no idea what you’ve not understood,” she says.

Prof. Sandra is an associate professor under the school of Chemical Sciences at St. Joseph’s College (Autonomous). With education shifting online owing to the Covid-19 crisis, travel time to and from college has been reduced largely and is a time-saver. However, the personal contact and face-to-face interaction missed out on is a huge drawback. In order to bridge the gap, Mrs. Sandra has given her contact number to her students and has made herself available to them whenever they are in need of her.

When asked how the shift towards the online medium impacted the students belonging to natural and physical science courses, she says theory sessions can be conducted well online. It is the lab sessions that are ‘worrisome.’ Lab sessions can’t be held online as certain courses require apparatus and the students need hands-on experience. She is concerned about the new batch of Science Undergraduate students who missed out on a wholesome lab experience during their 2nd PUC as well. They lack experience in the practical aspect.

Unlike how it was pre-pandemic, the lab instructions are given online so that when students arrive on campus all they have to do is to conduct the experiment. To reduce the frequency of students coming offline, lab sessions are combined and held as block-sessions. These sessions however might not be very effective.

Theory sessions can be managed online. However, it is necessary to ensure that the practical sessions for science students are well planned out to ensure they get the required hands-on experience in the field.

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