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Foreign Students Study Biochemistry

Foreign Students Study Biochemistry

Studying at ZSMU, second-year students of Medical Faculties as well as third-year students of Pharmaceutical Faculties try to master a complex discipline known as Biochemistry. Some of them are staying in Ukraine now, others have gone to their homeland, but all of them continue to study online. Every week the Department of Biological Chemistry of ZSMU conducts classes for 57 groups of foreign students, among them 38 groups are English-speaking, four groups have Russian medium of instruction, and another fifteen groups are made up of foreign citizens who have learned Ukrainian at the Preparatory Faculty of the University.

"Our dream as lecturers is to meet students face-to-face and write a formula for them on the board," says Professor Kateryna Aleksandrova, Doctor of Chemical Sciences, Head of the Department of Biological Chemistry of ZSMU. "We all would like to see students in class. But for now we use a mixed form of education. That is, a number of lessons were conducted in class, particularly, foreign students passed the Unified State Qualification Exam (USQE) and the licence integrated examination "KROK". Training is now conducted in real time online using videoconferencing. During practical classes, teachers see student's faces and their reaction to the presented material. We also control the process of mastering each topic in real time."

According to Kateryna Aleksandrova, the ideal mode of study for both students and teachers is lessons in class. After all, the University works according to its schedule considering the time zone of Ukraine, and we have to achieve synchrony in time for classes to be productive.

Associate Professor Dmytro Ivanchenko, the person responsible for working with foreign students, told us about how the lecturers of the Department organize the educational process:

"An important part of this process is preparation for each lesson. One week before studying a topic, we give a task to each group so that students can find out what it is about. They also receive links to lectures, brief theoretical information, so that by delving into the topic, they expand the range of useful content to search for. The Teams platform has a number of additional features, in particular, students are well acquainted with ClassNote, where they are given a huge amount of necessary material – this is theoretical questions, practical works, and links to videos created by Department staff with clear explanations of each topic. Special attention is given to a separate block with links to lectures on each topic, which are posted on the website of the Department.

In such a way, the preparatory work for each topic is an essential part of its mastering. A mixed form of education provides proper independent training of students. By following our guidelines and making full use of the offered material students can successfully start a new topic.

According to the schedule, a class lasts exactly for two hours. By the time students get in touch, the lecturer has their homework checked, so a substantive conversation begins with analysis of students' mistakes. And there is also an in-depth analysis of theoretical issues — we find out how students connect the material learned with previous topics, and how they can use the acquired knowledge in mastering the following topics.

Lecturers are properly preparing for classes with foreign students, involving a lot of different tools and resources to provide students with the necessary information. After all, Biochemistry is one of those complex disciplines which have not approximate concepts, but have exact ones, so we widely use multimedia resources, offer videos shot at the Department and composed from the YouTube materials, upload ready-made pictures to the topics in the chat. On the MS Whiteboard we use presentations with demonstration of formulas, and so on.

Lecturers are very attentive and objective in testing and assessing the knowledge of foreign students. In order to check the mastered material, several steps are taken: the first one is multiple-choice test, the next task is answering topical questions in written form, and the last one is test for mastering the material as a whole."

According to Associate Professor Oleksandr Shkoda, who is responsible for education of future pharmacists, the algorithm works with this contingent of students, because Biochemistry is needed by professionals of all specialties without exception. And the results of the work depend on the efforts of each student; only conscious and disciplined students achieve good results.

12 November 2020

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