Effective Development of a Remote Full-Day Summer Neuroscience Program at the University of Pennsylvania

Kristen A. Hipolit



Online education programs are becoming increasingly prevalent, with the COVID-19 pandemic greatly accelerating their prominence.  Even as colleges and universities have returned to in-person learning, the need for effective remote learning options remains relevant.  Importantly, online programs can increase access for non-traditional students, international students, and under-represented minorities.  While information has been published about methods to successfully transition traditional lecture and laboratory courses online, one area that has received less attention has been that of summer programs.  Because these programs are typically full-day programs, they present a unique challenge for online engagement.  In this study, I describe the development of an online full-day summer neuroscience program that was taught over a three-week period.  The main goal of the program was to promote students’ future interest in the field of neuroscience.  Three additional goals were to introduce them to neuroscience content, give them exposure to reading scientific journal articles, and give them practice with oral presentations.  In order to promote these goals, four complementary components were incorporated into each day’s programming: 1.  Synchronous full-group lectures, 2.  Synchronous small-group Journal Clubs, 3.  Synchronous small-group Neuroethics Clubs, and 4.  Asynchronous lab activities.  Student evaluation feedback showed that the program was successful in stimulating the students’ future interest in neuroscience.  These levels of interest were similar to past in-person versions of the program.  Students also gained increased experience with neuroscience content, journal articles, and presentations.  Therefore, this program can serve as a template for the design of an effective online neuroscience summer program.