Virtual Learning in the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Comparison among Paramedical Students Having the Medical Microbiology Laboratory Course in the First and Second Pandemic years

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Maryam Motevasel, Sara Kashefian-Naeeini


As the swing of the pendulum has shifted towards empowering students, those students who can utilize virtual learning platforms are more predisposed to succeed especially in the time of COVID-19 pandemic. The present study sought to clarify the views of 50 students in two groups on virtual vs. face-to-face education. They received a series of similarinstruction throughout first and second pandemic years. Theoretical and practical virtual contents of medical microbiology laboratory were taughtvia available academic systems throughout educational semesters in the two pandemic years.Ten-dayface-to-face classes were held at the end of each semester in which the whole content was taught. Evaluation of the students were based on their class activity, the responses they provided to assignments, virtual forum participation and scores in the final exams. Moreover, some questionnaires wereadministered.In accordance with the results of Fisher’s Exact Test, the students of the first group who received virtual and intensive face-to-face instruction in the first COVID pandemic yearbelievedthat virtual education considerably enhances the quality of face- to-face learning, forum participation greatly improves learners’ sense of self-directed learning and Descriptive Questions exam (DQ) highly influences the evaluation of the quality of learning. However, students of the second group who received the same instruction including practical instruction clips and intensive face to face instructionmaintained that the level of information transfer is lower and the quality of education may be worse in virtual education in comparison with face to face learning. It was illuminatedthat the student’s motivation was lowerin the second pandemic year than the first year. It is advisable to pay sufficient attention to the infrastructures of virtual learning in various educationalsettings at all times in general and in the time of the Pandemic in particular.

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