13:59 PM

Prof adapts CPR certification skills test to online, students certify

When Assistant Professor of Public Health Isabelle Kusters heard that the University of Houston-Clear Lake might have to close to because of the COVID-19 virus, she knew she needed to act quickly to make changes to her courses. She was teaching a Health, Emergency Care, and First Aid class, which was in an online format to start with, but would have culminated in an in-person skills test and certification.

“How was I supposed to test students without ever seeing them?” wondered Kusters, who shared her concerns with her colleagues in the department. “I heard from other professors that sometimes, students submit videos of themselves demonstrating the skills they’re supposed to know.”

Kusters came up with scenarios, outlined in a detailed instruction sheet, requiring students to submit seven videos of themselves demonstrating the skills they’d learned in class, including how to intervene in adult and pediatric choking, first aid, and adult and pediatric CPR. “I had many different scenarios, and students were required to make videos in which they show themselves acting out the steps they would do in each situation, according to American Red Cross guidelines,” she said.

Students submitted their videos, and Kusters said they’d done a great job. “Students were ‘saving’ their kids, their husbands, stuffed animals, or pillows,” she said.

Andrea Gamarra, who is about to receive her Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Administration, took the online course believing the certification would be in person. “It did not work out that way,” she said. “But Dr. Kusters made it really simple. She gave detailed instructions and scenarios, and I took everything I learned in class about how to help someone choking, unconscious, or needing CPR, and I made all the videos showing my ability to respond to each scenario.”

Gamarra said she would rather have been able to show her skills and to do chest compression on a real CPR mannequin in front of her professor, but adjustments had to be made under the circumstances. “She provided us with everything we needed to learn,” she said.

Kusters said it was great to see how students rallied the people they are quarantined with to help get their assignments done. “Most of my students are Fitness and Human Performance students, but many students take this course as an elective as well,” she said. “This is one of the first classes our students in our degree program take, but it’s applicable to other colleges as well.”

Although students expressed the wish to come in and actually use the mannequins, Kusters said each student took the assignments seriously. “I think they still got the full benefit,” she said. “They completed the online tests and assignments. This is about teaching in the time when instructional innovation is needed. We have to do things differently in a time of crisis.”

Gamarra is CPR certified now, and feels the information will be useful as she proceeds into her career in hospital administration. “I do feel that I learned everything I needed despite not being able to do anything in person.”

Read more about UHCL’s Fitness and Human Performance program online.