Anne C. Balant –
State University of New York at New Paltz
1 Hawk Dr.
New Paltz, NY 12561

Popular version of lightening round talk 3pSCb1 “Lab kits for remote and socially distanced instruction in a GE Acoustics Course
Presented Thursday afternoon, June 10, 2021
180th ASA Meeting, Acoustics in Focus
Read the article in Proceedings of Meetings on Acoustics

How do you give students in an online acoustics course a hands-on lab experience?


At the State University of New York (SUNY) at New Paltz, students in the online sections of “The World of Sound” use a lab kit that was designed by the instructor. Students pay for shipment of the kits to their homes at the start of the course and return them at the end. They submit photos or videos of their activities along with their completed lab reports.

These kits had been in use for several years in an online post-baccalaureate program that prepares students for graduate study in speech-language pathology when the COVID19 pandemic radically changed the undergraduate on-campus version the course.

“The World of Sound” is a four-credit general education lab science course. Undergraduates typically work in groups of three and share equipment within and across lab sections. By summer of 2020, it was clear that on-campus labs in the upcoming fall semester would have to meet social distancing requirements, with no sharing of materials, and that there could be a pivot to fully remote instruction at any time. The cost of the needed individual instructional materials was a consideration due to the fiscal impact of COVID19. A revised lab kit was developed that contains everything needed for seven labs, costs under $30.00, and has a shipping weight of less than two pounds.


About one-fourth of the undergraduates in the course chose to study fully remotely during fall 2020. These students had their kits shipped to them and they attended a weekly virtual lab session. Each student in the seated course was issued an individual lab kit in a shipping box that was addressed to the department for ease of return shipment. Seated labs were conducted with all required precautions including face coverings and social distancing. The kits contained everything needed for each lab, including basic supplies, so no equipment had to be shared.

Although the college was able to keep COVID19 rates low enough to stay open for the entire semester, about 15% of the students in the course transitioned to remote learning at least briefly for reasons such as illness or quarantine, missing a required covid test date, financial issues, or COVID19-related family responsibilities or crises. Having their lab kits in their possession allowed these students to move seamlessly between seated and virtual lab sessions without falling behind. Every undergraduate who studied remotely for part or all of the semester completed the course successfully.
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