Virtual Labs in the Online Biology Course: Student Perceptions of Effectiveness and Usability
The purpose of this study was to investigate student perceptions of virtual biology labs used in two online introductory biology courses. Students completed an online survey, containing Likert-type and open-ended items, about perceptions of the CD-ROM-based virtual biology laboratories and face-to-face (F2F) laboratories they completed during the courses. Findings indicated that though most students (86.9%) perceived the F2F laboratories as more effective than the virtual laboratories across several criteria, many of them (60.8% on one criterion) perceived the virtual laboratories as effective as well. The authors discuss how student-identified issues related to interactivity and feedback could be influenced by the design of the learning experience, virtual laboratory tool, and/or the use of synchronous collaboration tools. Additionally, the authors include suggestions for future research on the use of virtual biology laboratories in the online setting.
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