UC Davis begins welcoming students back into classrooms

UC Davis begins welcoming students back into classrooms

Photo Credits: Sciences Lab building at UC Davis during Spring Quarter 2021. (Quinn Spooner / Aggie)

Three students share their experiences with in-person classes during the COVID-19 pandemic

While UC Davis plans to resume in-person classes in the fall, a few courses have been offering in-person instruction since Fall Quarter 2020. Although these classes do not look similar to those in previous years, according to three UC Davis students who are taking in-person classes this spring, they have been exciting and refreshing nonetheless. 

Naina Misra, a fourth-year cognitive science major, said that being on campus for class is a welcome break from the rest of her Zoom classes.

“It was a really nice change of pace,” Misra said. “Also the class is outside, […] so just being able to be outside was really nice. It’s a good break from sitting on Zoom all day. I feel like that can be really exhausting.”

Misra is taking Field Methods in Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology (WFC 100), which usually includes 30 hours of field work and 30 hours of lab work, a requirement that the pandemic has made more challenging. This quarter, WFC 100 has transitioned from entirely online to hybrid so that some of this important field work can happen. Misra explained that there are two online lectures each week, and the class is split into two groups for lab sections. These two groups alternate being in person, so throughout the quarter each student will have the opportunity to complete five labs in person.

Although she was excited to get back on campus, Misra said that she didn’t expect to be as nervous as she was.

“I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m going to have to be somewhere for a certain amount of time,’” Misra said. “That’s a window of time that I’m not going to be able to do anything else. The thing with online classes is that my schedule has been so flexible. But then when I actually got to the class, it felt very normal.”

Like Misra, Emma Ramirez, a third-year genetics and genomics major, had been completing virtual labs for the past year. This quarter, however, her molecular and cellular biology laboratory, Principles of Genetics, has been hybrid. Ramirez said that being in the physical lab is crucial to learning this material.

“Especially being in an upper-division genetics class, [professors] really realize that we can’t teach these techniques over Zoom because all lab work is incredibly hands-on,” Ramirez said. “Lab is probably one of my favorite things. I love being able to be in the lab, work with samples and also be able to collaborate with my peers.”

Ramirez attends the lab in person every other week, and her class is divided into four groups so she only shares the lab with five other students at a time. In addition to more hands-on learning, Ramirez said that having a lab in person has also helped her focus.

“[At home, I’m] distracted by housemates and our four dogs, and there’s so many external things constantly going on,” Ramirez said. “That makes it even that much harder to stay focused, but when you’re actually in the lab, there aren’t any distractions. You’re just solely focused on the task at hand.”

Ramirez added that it has also been motivating to be back on campus.

“I’ve had two of three quarters of physics being online, and those [labs] are three hours,” Ramirez said. “It is one of the most tedious things to sit through. That week of being on campus has made me excited. I’m motivated again, especially for that class.” 

Ankita Angarwal, a fourth-year managerial economics major, said that her two-hour dance class also felt extremely long on Zoom before it was moved to in person.

“I don’t know if it was just the fact that it was online and we would have to be in our room and it was on Zoom, [but] those two hours go by so slowly,” Angarwal said. “I would be counting down every 10 minutes, but now, the time goes by so much faster because I think [in] dance and art, most of the fun comes with interacting with others.”

Angarwal said that the in-person class feels less tedious, and she is able to get a lot more out of it.

“I think it’s super nice because a lot of my classes are held outside, so there’s not even that big of a risk, but I still get the benefits of interacting with other students,” Angarwal said. “I’m actually creating more meaningful connections.”
Written by: Katie DeBenedetti — features@theaggie.org