An online learning tool helps an international student excel

Dominik Kaltenbach with mountain scenery

“In German universities, you get very big classes with 100 plus students. Here, we have very small classes, and there is really close contact with the professors. You get to know them, and they are very helpful. It’s like family,” said Dominik Kaltenbach, a senior at Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania.

Having grown up in the Black Forest region of Germany, Dominik had initially come to Shippensburg to complete the prerequisites to study chiropractic medicine because no schools in Germany offer a program in that field. But after taking a Careers in Health Professions course in his freshman year, he changed his plans.

In the course, he learned about osteopathic medicine, a related field. He explained, “You still have the manipulative treatments, and you look at the patient as a whole, which you also do in chiropractic. But you are also able to use all the other medical procedures, like an MD. I found that really interesting, and now I am preparing to become a doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO).”

As a biology major with a concentration in healthcare professions, Dominik has taken classes that are heavily focused on the sciences. He said that his greatest challenge has been the sheer amount of information he has had to absorb. But with the help of his professors and online learning tools, he is well on his way to success.

One program he found useful in his biochemistry class was Mastering Chemistry, an online learning tool that is used in conjunction with classroom learning. He said, “I enjoyed working with Mastering Chemistry because it brought along a diverse range of exercises to reinforce the learned material.”

He elaborated, “For the regular homework that was assigned, if you answered a problem incorrectly, you’d get a hint, and if you had no idea how the problem is answered, you could click on the help button to get more background information. This allowed me to immediately gain new knowledge without spending a lot of time searching in the book or looking for reliable sources that explain the problem.”

Dominik also used the program as a study tool. “What I liked most about Mastering Chemistry was the dynamic study modules. Those consisted of multiple-choice questions with all essential questions on the subject. If a question was answered correctly, it was not asked again. If a question was answered incorrectly, it was asked again at a later point until my knowledge was solid,” he shared.

If there was the possibility of choosing a class with or without the online learning tools, I would definitely recommend the ones that use them.

Overall, Dominik felt the online tool helped him achieve a good grade in the class. He said, “It made studying easier, and since most exercises had a due date, it also helped to hinder procrastination. The package also included an ebook, which even allowed me to study back home in Germany without having to carry a heavy book around.”

Photo of Dominik KaltenbachPreparing for the next step in his education, Dominik reflected on the importance of choosing a direction to pursue early on in college. He shared how he explored his interest in healthcare before he began his studies: “I did a voluntary half year called a “year of social service” in Germany at the Red Cross. It included an internship of four weeks at the local hospital.”

This firsthand experience confirmed for him that healthcare was the field he wanted to pursue, even if it was difficult. He concluded, “It’s very important to not give up, and even if you have a hard time in a course, to keep going if you have a sincere interest in it. You just step up and try it again.”