Exploring nature through virtual experimentation

In the present article, a study of the use of a virtual lab in environmental science teaching is reported. The lab was used as part of regular instruction; the idea was to provide a context to learn about experimentation as a research method. The study builds on a sample of 80 of 511 students, and uses pre- and post-test data of students’ insights about concepts and procedures relevant for designing an experiment in environmental science. The results show that students discovered some principles of how to organize an experiment. A majority of the students appropriated some of the relevant terminology and procedures relevant for organizing experiments. However, the findings also pointed to limitations in how students were able to reason about experimentation. A major problem for the students was to understand the role an experiment plays in resolving an issue. Such insights do not emerge from using the virtual lab per se, but rather from realizing the role an experiment plays as part of a scientific study of a problem.

Petersson E., Lantz Andersson A. & Säljö R., in press. Exploring nature through virtual experimentation. Nordic Journal of Digital Literacy. Article.

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