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Effectiveness of a Virtual Laboratory

Effectiveness of a Virtual Laboratory

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Effectiveness of a Virtual Laboratory

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  1. Effectiveness of a Virtual Laboratory as a preparatory resource for DistanceEducation chemistry students Presenter: Yun-Ting,Wong Advisor: Ming-Puu,Chen Date: 07/29/2009 Dalgarno,B.,Bishop,A.G., Adlong,W.&Bedgood Jr.,D.R.(2009). Effectiveness of a Virtual Laboratory as a preparatory resource for DistanceEducation chemistry students. Computers&Education, 53(3), 853–865.

  2. Introduction(1/3) • This article reports on studies exploring theeffectivenessof a virtual environment based on a chemistry laboratory as a tool to prepare university chemistry students studying at a distance for their on-campus residential schools. • Many university chemistry students lack confidence and experience anxiety as they approach their first chemistry laboratory sessions, especially for students studying at adistance and undertaking their laboratory sessions at intensive residential schools(Loonat, 1996).

  3. Introduction(2/3) • This article presents the results of two studies: 1) To test the degree to which learning about the laboratory and its apparatus using the Virtual Laboratory is equivalent to face-to-face learning in the actual laboratory. 2) To explore the way in which students made use of the Virtual Laboratory and the benefits experienced by these students as they approached their residential school. • Many undergraduate students studying chemistry subjects at Charles Sturt University (CSU) do so by ‘Distance Education’ (DE). One of the greatest problems that confronts us is how to adequately address the teaching of a laboratory component? (Hollingworth & McLoughlin, 2001; Kennepohl & Last, 2000) 3

  4. Introduction(3/3) • The main purposes of instructional laboratory sessions include the teaching of laboratory technique and analytical thinking skills, as well as connection of the theory with laboratory practice. Woodfield et al. (2005) • Humphries and Revelle (1984) suggest that anxiety may enhance performance on easy tasks while hindering performance on tasks that are more difficult. • This article reports on our attempts to address this problem by providing students with a CD-ROM containing the Virtual Chemistry Laboratory (Dalgarno, 2008), a simulated 3D environment developed as an accurate representation of the teaching laboratories. 4

  5. Method-study1(1/3) overview • The purpose of the first study was to evaluate the effectiveness of the Virtual Laboratory for learning about the spatial structure of the laboratory and the items of apparatus and equipment contained within it. • The participants were undergraduate Information Technology (IT) students. 5

  6. Virtual Laboratory-version1 Version of The Virtual Chemistry Laboratory used in Study 1 6

  7. Method-study1(2/3) Allocated time for each task in Study 1. 7

  8. Method-study1(3/3) • Participants undertook a series of tests on completion of the learning phase of the study: 1)apparatus identification test -7min 2) a laboratory layout test -6min 3) an apparatus location test -5min • Prior to beginning the first test, participants completed a questionnaire containing background questions including questions about prior study of chemistry. 8

  9. Result-study1(1/2) Initial analysis • T-tests comparing the effect of gender on performance indicated • that there was no significant difference between male and • female performance on any of the three tests(not significant) • Real Laboratory participants scored on average higher than • Virtual Laboratory participants. However, the difference was not • significant at the 95% level in any of the tests. • the Virtual Laboratory is an effective tool for gaining familiarity • with the laboratory environment, especially for a student • studying at a distance. conclusion 9

  10. Result-study1(2/2) Test1-apparatus identification Test2- laboratory layout Test3- laboratory layout 10

  11. Method-study2 overview • The second study was designed to assess the usefulness of the Virtual Laboratory as a preparatory tool for university chemistry Students studying at a distance, in advance of their residential school laboratory sessions: -reduce the anxiety of students -increase theirconfidence as they approached the laboratory -improve their efficiency in the laboratory • In Autumn session 2004 all distance students studying in one of the first year Chemistry subjects at CSU were sent a CD-ROM • All students who attended the residential school in these subjects were then asked to complete a questionnaire(using a seven point Likert scale): -28/95 had used the Virtual Laboratory -16 students agreed to be interviewed about their experience

  12. Virtual Laboratory-version2 Version of The Virtual Chemistry Laboratory used in Study 2 12

  13. Result-study2(1/3) conclusion • Students were also asked in the questionnaire to list three barriers to their learning in the laboratory sessions: • the lack of time-23 of the 95 • Problems with mathematical calculations -10 of the 95 (an addition question was added to the questionnaire which was used for the final residential school group (40 students,33 agreed .Only 6 students listed problems with their familiarity with apparatus as a barrier.) • Only a minority of the students (29%) chose to use the Virtual Laboratory, those who did in general found it useful. • It appears that a lack of familiarity with the laboratorywas not the major source of students’ anxiety or their lack of confidence. • Teaching staff may be able to address these issues through additional support for students during their preparation work.

  14. Result-study2(2/3) This suggests that, the Virtual Laboratory lessened anxiety and increased the level of confidence of some but not all students who used it.

  15. Result-study2(3/3) 7th of 10

  16. Discussion(1/2) • The Virtual Laboratory can be an effective tool to help students develop their familiarity with the laboratory environment prior to their laboratory sessions.(help to address the identified problems of a lack of confidence and asense of anxiety) • The fact that students will often focus on learning tasks associated with the assessment and ignore optional tasks even if such tasks may have clear potential learning benefits (see, for example Biggs & Moore,1993; Diederen et al., 2005).

  17. Discussion(2/2) • During the study, mathematical calculations and ability to apply the chemistry concepts within practical tasks in the laboratory are the major problem-- 1) Virtual Laboratory included simulated experiments 2) provided support or scaffolding • It may be that the incorporation of some of the material from these other resources into the Virtual Laboratory would also increase its usefulness to students. • Age is not the key determinate of the learning problems experienced by students nor of their preference for particular learning resources. • Students should be provided with a range of learning opportunities.