Student Perceptions of Biology Laboratory Instruction in Pre, During, and Post-Pandemic: A Comparative Survey Study


  • Jorge Antonio De los santos University of Wisconsin Madison, Department of Animal & Dairy Sciences.
  • MaryGrace Erickson University of Wisconsin Madison, Department of Animal & Dairy Sciences.
  • Michel A. Wattiaux University of Wisconsin Madison, Department of Animal & Dairy Sciences
  • John J. Parrish University of Wisconsin Madison, Department of Animal & Dairy Sciences



student perceptions, laboratory, instruction modality, pandemic


In 2019 a global pandemic forced biology teaching laboratories to move remotely. In this article we present data on student perceptions of laboratory instruction modality as experienced pre-, during, and post-pandemic. Our research took place at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2022. We designed a survey to evaluate students’ perception of key components of scientific critical thinking set as learning outcomes of the laboratory of an introductory biology course. Participants included students who took the course under the same teaching assistant. We surveyed four consecutive semesters in which teaching and learning environments were drastically altered: A) pre-pandemic in-person instruction Fall 2019, B) pandemic emergency-remote instruction Spring 2020, C) pandemic full-semester online instruction Fall 2020, and D) post-pandemic return to in-person instruction Spring 2021. We found differences in the response to four of the nine survey items. First, greater ratings were observed for D (post-pandemic in-person Spring 2021) relative to C (pandemic full-semester online Fall 2020) for the following three items: (a) developing research questions and hypotheses, (b) performing experiments and (c) level of engagement. Furthermore, the rating for the overall laboratory quality was greater for D (post-pandemic in-person Spring 2021) relative to A (pre-pandemic in-person Fall 2019). There were no differences in students’ perception for the following four items: presenting data, performing statistical analysis, discussion of results, and acquiring critical thinking skills. We concluded that students had a better appreciation for in-person laboratories after experiencing remote laboratory. In the future, student perceptions should be considered, along with their academic experiences, whenever laboratory teaching is done remotely.  


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How to Cite

De los santos, J. A., Erickson, M. ., Wattiaux, M. A., & Parrish, . J. J. . (2023). Student Perceptions of Biology Laboratory Instruction in Pre, During, and Post-Pandemic: A Comparative Survey Study. NACTA Journal, 67(1).