Presentation Type

Poster Presentation

Symposium Date

Spring 4-24-2013


This study investigates the effect of the signature technical difficulties of laboratory work on student learning in the physical science classroom. Certainly the educational strategies of text and lecture are sorely lacking. But do laboratories in physical science frustrate students more than they teach them? If so, why? To investigate this phenomenon, the study involved differentiating instruction for three classes of freshmen, sophomore, junior, and senior students enrolled in an introductory physical science course at a local high school. Two classes participated in a physical laboratory on DC circuits, while a third class instead participated in a simulation counterpart – that is, an electronic experimental setup that by design cannot have inherent technical difficulties. Results show that the simulation laboratory had a more significant impact on students’ post-test responses, though not always for the better. These results are enlightened by observations of student interaction with each laboratory activity.

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