Spotlight Author Interview for Achieve Labs - Dr. Elizabeth Co

Macmillan Employee
Macmillan Employee
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Our Achieve Labs Program here at Macmillan is our opportunity to support students and instructors during every step of their learning. With the Achieve Lab Program, students and instructors have access to an online learning system that provides a vast amount of robust assessment tools and content to support the growth of student success. 

As we build our Achieve Labs Program, we’d like to take an opportunity to let our employees and instructor community get to know one of our authors, Dr. Elizabeth Co. 

Dr. Co is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Services at Boston University. Her passions in life have been teaching and learning about the structure of the human body and its diseases. Her current role allows her to investigate the benefits of group learning and how student awareness impacts learning performance. 

Check out this interview for an in-depth look at Dr. Co's experience with our Achieve Lab Program:

1. How has the shift in lab teaching during the pandemic affected your approach to authoring a lab product for today’s Health Science lab students and instructors?

I think the pandemic forced us to reckon with always-present issues. A lot of students benefit from online labs. Flexibility in meeting student absence has always been a goal. But after remote teaching, I think writing with these circumstances in mind is a lot easier. I also think that in microbiology, we benefit from the substantial “level-up” of vocab and interest in infectious diseases. How many people knew the word “antigen” until we started stocking antigen tests in our homes?


2. Do you have a piece of advice for Health Science lab coordinators on how to engage students more effectively online and support their in-person learning through digital tools?

The science of learning has taught us that scientist identity and a sense of community are two of the most important factors for the success and resiliency of at-risk students. As an instructor, I make building community among the students as important of a priority as the content we teach. Community building looks different online versus in person, but it is still possible.


3. How does creating a national lab product for a large audience differ from creating a curriculum for your own students at Boston University? Have you encountered any unique challenges?

It doesn’t really differ that much, except that I stretch further in some of my goals. For example, when you’re writing an exam question or a worksheet for your own students, you have a good sense of what vocabulary they know and you have the forethought to write your materials in a manner that is approachable. Writing a national product is similar, but I have to stretch further to make the material interesting, applicable, and approachable to an even broader audience and, challengingly, to students I do not know.


4. What is the most exciting feature/lab you’ve included in your Achieve Lab product that you want to ensure everyone checks out when they get a copy? (Or, if we are still far away from publishing, what are you most excited to include in this Digital Lab Product?)

I’m very proud of our activity on the importance of controls in an experiment. That is an activity that I developed for my own students after years of seeing them struggle with the ideas behind experimental controls.


5. Tell us about your vision for the future of lab teaching in Health Sciences. Are there any trends that seem inevitable at this point? What won’t change?

I think the most exciting trend is the movement toward open-ended or inquiry-based labs. For so long we were stuck in a comfort zone of “cookbook labs” where the outcomes were very prescribed. These labs are convenient but are so removed from the scientific method.


6. Please tell us something fun/interesting about your work at Boston University or about your lab/students!

At Boston University I also teach Anatomy and Physiology. I bring bones with me to class, but rarely teach in my own building, so you can spot me on campus walking or biking with bones sticking out of my bags! One time, I was biking across campus (which is in the middle of a city), and a cyclist pulled up next to me in the bike lane to let me know that a spinal column was about to fall out of my bag.

Click here to see more about how Achieve works to support instructor and student success.