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ERIC Number: EJ848735
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2004
Pages: 7
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 16
ISSN: ISSN-1536-7509
Computer Simulations Improve University Instructional Laboratories
Gibbons, Nicola J.; Evans, Chris; Payne, Annette; Shah, Kavita; Griffin, Darren K.
Cell Biology Education, v3 n4 p263-269 Win 2004
Laboratory classes are commonplace and essential in biology departments but can sometimes be cumbersome, unreliable, and a drain on time and resources. As university intakes increase, pressure on budgets and staff time can often lead to reduction in practical class provision. Frequently, the ability to use laboratory equipment, mix solutions, and manipulate test animals are essential learning outcomes, and "wet" laboratory classes are thus appropriate. In others, however, interpretation and manipulation of the data are the primary learning outcomes, and here, computer-based simulations can provide a cheaper, easier, and less time- and labor-intensive alternative. We report the evaluation of two computer-based simulations of practical exercises: the first in chromosome analysis, the second in bioinformatics. Simulations can provide significant time savings to students (by a factor of four in our first case study) without affecting learning, as measured by performance in assessment. Moreover, under certain circumstances, performance can be improved by the use of simulations (by 7% in our second case study). We concluded that the introduction of these simulations can significantly enhance student learning where consideration of the learning outcomes indicates that it might be appropriate. In addition, they can offer significant benefits to teaching staff. (Contains 3 figures and 5 tables.)
American Society for Cell Biology. 8120 Woodmont Avenue Suite 750, Bethesda, MD 20814-2762. Tel: 301-347-9300; Fax: 301-347-9310; E-mail:; Website:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A