Science labs are important part of science education – students are able to experience the process of scientific inquiry, and learn about concepts from direct experience – leading students to generate the questions that makes learning happen. However, limited resources in schools can make it difficult to perform some types of labs… and in some schools, students have no access to any kind of lab experience. This is an area where cyberlearning can be vital… but how do we best represent lab experiences using today’s technology?
Simulations – using computer models to create data similar to what you would receive in a lab, not actually hooked up to equipmentRemote Labs – allow students to actually access real equipment over the internet, and the data they receive is generated by this equipment. What are the psychological differences between using these two types of computer-accessible labs? The interfaces can be very similar, but does accessing real equipment influence student perceptions of the lab or affordances for inquiry? Does it make the lab seem more authentic and “real”??
Visualizations are the visual representations of the lab – the data, the concepts, and the equipment. So in the case of remote labs, where real equipment is being used… how do we visualize this information for students, so they know, understand, and trust the procedure and the data? How do they interpret these visualizations?
The lab we are using come from iLabCentral.org: anyone can access free and open remote labs. Our featured iLab is the Radioactivity iLab which was developed for high school audiences. The learning goal of the lab is to teach about radioactivity and the inverse square law.
Students follow an inquiry process through the lab, following each step of the scientific method. The design step of the lab: students can enter their experimental specifications, which will be sent to a real geiger counter in Australia. Students can specify the distances from the radioactive source at which radiation will be measured, the number of seconds each measurement will last, and the number of trials to run at these settings.
After submitting their settings, the experiment runs and they receive their data. Analyze step: students can graph their data and determine the relationship between distance from the source and intensity of radiation.
Keeping this procedure in mind, let’s proceed to question 1…
Students in both groups go through the full inquiry process… see the graph, see a photo of the equipment, have access to readings. Only difference is the data source.TO look at how the type of tech influences psychological experience… we examined 3 previously mentioned dependent variables….
Presence is important because we want students to have an authentic experience using the lab.
Suggests both labs are pretty good, some realistic affordances… but why did the remote lab feel more realistic? Students reported:
Many students mentioned how much they appreciated using real equipment, even though they weren’t physically manipulating the equipment.
Also differences according to how students conceptualize types of science labs.How their models of labs differs based on the experience they personally had.
Simulation: reasons to choose: classic reason of do what you’re used to, and a couple people thought a simulation would be more accurate because it’s based on past data. Simulations are effective (as I will show when talking about learning outcomes), but the advantages of the real equipment in a remote lab seem to outweigh affordances of the simulation, for those who have actually done a remote lab.
Why is this important? Shows a qualitative difference between each experience… more likely to attribute experience of an experiment (re-running trials) to the remote lab. Do not feel this would be necessary with a simulation.
Remote labs feel authentic to students… so how can we best support this authenticity through visulizations?Webcam… encodes more aspects of the experience… TIMECOURSE!
Reasons given for wanting to re-run the lab included a desire to collect more data to confirm the results and a curiosity to try different settings or new variables. Important part of real scientific process!This second difference… although there was no difference between groups on whether they thought the equipment was real, webcam users thought the webcam was more helpful. What’s going on here?
Citing things such as the official appearance of the website, the wait time to receive results, and “because you told me it was real”
Presence of the lab experience very important, and this is deeply affected by the technology linking the referent to the representation.
May indicate how engaging the experience with the webcam was.From research perspective, the results w/ visualizations show how realism is powerful construct.Can use other features…. But if the features aren’t there, you couldlose your user (from educator/designer perspective)
Using Visualizations in Remote Online Labs - Talk at CyTSE
Using Visualizations in Remote Online Labs <br />Megan Sauter<br />Northwestern University<br />Research in collaboration with <br />KemiJona, David Uttal, and David Rapp, Northwestern University<br />
How do we best represent science labs using today’s technology?<br />
Questions<br />1. How does the type of technology influence the psychological experience of doing a science lab?<br />Remote Labs & Simulations<br />
Questions<br />1. How does the type of technology influence the psychological experience of doing a science lab?<br />Remote Labs & Simulations<br />2. Do the types of visualizations included in the lab change the overall experience?<br />Photos & Webcams (within remote labs)<br />
Procedure and some of our dependent measures…<br />
How does the type of technology influence the psychological experience of doing a science lab?<br />Simulation Remote Lab<br />Data Source: Computer model<br />(lab not linked to equipment)<br />Data Source: Geiger counter <br />(lab linked to real equipment)<br />Interfaces are identical! Only thing manipulated is source of data.<br />
Dependent measures<br />Presence – overall immersion/authenticity of the lab<br />Mental Models – how the lab fits with concepts of science labs<br />Learning Outcomes – conceptual change related to the content and process<br />
Measures of Presence<br />“Did you feel like you just did an experiment?”<br />“Did you trust your data?”<br />“Would you want to run the experiment again?”<br />
Why did a Remote Lab feel like an experiment?<br />“Even though I’m not with the actual instruments, I designed an experiment and got results and interpreted them and answered a question.”<br />
Mental Models<br />In progress! Selected questions…<br />“Which would you prefer, between a remote lab and a simulation?” <br />“Would you run your lab again in the other condition?”<br />
Mental Models<br />Majority in both labs choose remote lab, but there is a main effect of condition (chi square = 8.074, p <.05)<br />Preference<br />
Why choose a remote lab?<br />Sense of control, sense of reality… overall presence.<br />“Because the experiment is actually happening. Something real is being measured.”<br />
Mental Models<br />Those who did a remote lab would not want to run a simulation multiple times, but those who ran a simulation would want to run a remote lab multiple times (chi square = 18.58, p <.001)<br />Run again?<br />
Learning Outcomes<br />Content understanding<br />What is radiation?<br />What are some of the different types of radiation? Explain why these types of radiation are different.<br />What is radioactive decay, and how does it work?<br />How can you measure radioactivity?<br /> Does the intensity of radiation change over time and distance? <br />Behavioral data from the lab (e.g., # trials)<br />
Learning Outcomes<br />Learning occurs in both versions of the lab (simulation and remote)<br />One difference in behavioral data (# trials), likely due to real-world constraints of Remote Lab.<br />
Do the types of visualizations included in the lab change the overall experience?<br />Photo Webcam<br />Clock moves<br />Counter moves<br />Numbers Change<br />
Belief in Equipment and Presence<br />Webcam group: <br /> more variance explained by association between belief in equipment and feeling like you did an experiment, r = .52<br />Photo group:<br /> less variance explained, <br />r = .33<br />
Belief in Equipment and Presence<br />Webcam group: 56% of believers (9/16) spontaneously mention webcam.<br />Photo group: 25% of believers (3/12) spontaneously mentions photo. One participant says webcam would be better<br />Bottom Line: People can usually find a way to believe… but the more realistic the visualizations, the more control over the experience!<br />
Webcam & Presence<br />“Seeing it on video and just like especially the clock just brought a reality to it, where it was digital things on my side and real things on the other side, but I liked it."<br />
An emerging picture…<br />Although learning is robust in both remote labs and simulations, the experience is qualitatively different.<br />Remote lab users more likely to feel like they have done a real experiment.<br />Most participants view the simulation and remote lab as qualitatively different, and attribute important experimental qualities to the remote lab.<br />
An emerging picture…<br />The visualizations used in the lab can influence the experience, favoring webcams over still photos.<br />Webcam viewers more likely to want to run the lab again.<br />Participants thought the webcam was more helpful at convincing them the lab was real.<br />
Take-home Message<br />Students can learn from science labs done on computers… but technology and visualizations that bring reality closer to the student lead to more authentic lab experiences.<br />