NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ1044887
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014-Dec
Pages: 12
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 16
ISSN: ISSN-1059-0145
Are Virtual Labs as Effective as Hands-on Labs for Undergraduate Physics? A Comparative Study at Two Major Universities
Darrah, Marjorie; Humbert, Roxann; Finstein, Jeanne; Simon, Marllin; Hopkins, John
Journal of Science Education and Technology, v23 n6 p803-814 Dec 2014
Most physics professors would agree that the lab experiences students have in introductory physics are central to the learning of the concepts in the course. It is also true that these physics labs require time and money for upkeep, not to mention the hours spent setting up and taking down labs. Virtual physics lab experiences can provide an alternative or supplement to these traditional hands-on labs. However, physics professors may be very hesitant to give up the hands-on labs, which have been such a central part of their courses, for a more cost and time-saving virtual alternative. Thus, it is important to investigate how the learning from these virtual experiences compares to that acquired through a hands-on experience. This study evaluated a comprehensive set of virtual labs for introductory level college physics courses and compared them to a hands-on physics lab experience. Each of the virtual labs contains everything a student needs to conduct a physics laboratory experiment, including: objectives, background theory, 3D simulation, brief video, data collection tools, pre- and postlab questions, and postlab quiz. This research was conducted with 224 students from two large universities and investigated the learning that occurred with students using the virtual labs either in a lab setting or as a supplement to hands-on labs versus a control group of students using the traditional hands-on labs only. Findings from both university settings showed the virtual labs to be as effective as the traditional hands-on physics labs.
Springer. 233 Spring Street, New York, NY 10013. Tel: 800-777-4643; Tel: 212-460-1500; Fax: 212-348-4505; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A