The use of virtual laboratories has the potential to change physics education. These low-cost, interactive computer activities interest students, allow for easy setup, and give educators a way to teach laboratory based online classes. This study investigated whether virtual laboratories could replace traditional hands-on laboratories and whether students could retain the same long-term knowledge in virtual laboratories as compared to hands-on laboratories. This study is a quantitative quasi-experiment that used a multiple posttest design to determine if students using virtual laboratories would retain the same knowledge as students who performed hands-on laboratories after 9 weeks. The study was composed of 336 students from 14 school districts. Students had their performances on the laboratories and their retention of the laboratories compared to a series of factors that might have affected their retention using a pretest and two posttests, which were compared using a t test. The results showed no significant difference in short-term learning between the hands-on laboratory groups and virtual laboratory groups. There was, however, a significant difference (p = .005) between the groups in long-term retention; students in the hands-on laboratory groups retained more information than those in the virtual laboratory groups. These results suggest that long-term learning is enhanced when a laboratory contains a hands-on component. Finally, the results showed that both groups of students felt their particular laboratory style was superior to the alternative method. The findings of this study can be used to improve the integration of virtual laboratories into science curriculum.
|Advisor:||Garrigan, Scott R.|
|Commitee:||Barilla, Margaret K., DeLeo, Gary G.|
|School Location:||United States -- Pennsylvania|
|Source:||DAI-A 75/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Physics, Educational technology, Science education|
|Keywords:||Curriculum design, Hands-on labratories, Knowledge retention, Long-term learning, Physics instruction, Virtual labratories|
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