Salt Lake City, Utah
June 23, 2018
June 23, 2018
July 27, 2018
Experimentation and Laboratory-Oriented Studies
Today, learning in engineering laboratory takes place via face-to-face and distance modes the latter via the internet. Both of these modes are seen as crucially important for students’ learning of essential practical skills as stipulated by accrediting bodies. Recent research has focused on developing new remotely controlled laboratories for various disciplines in engineering studies. Remotely controlled laboratories are robust in design and have the potential to serve well in an era of high student enrollment and help to alleviate constraining factors of physical laboratories such as space, time, safety hazards and cost.
Remotely controlled laboratories are efficient and provide students with experience in controlling real equipment to obtain real-time data but without the need of being physically co-located with the equipment. These laboratories focus purely on technical aspects of the laboratory while still struggling to provide an environment for the development of personal and professional skills that are also a critical part of a student’s education.
A recent study was conducted at two different Australian Universities, Curtin University and Deakin University in face-to-face and remotely controlled modes in the engineering discipline for first-year students. Quantitative and qualitative surveys were conducted to observe student interactions and capture their experience in these contrasting laboratory modes. The study was designed to compare the effects of each mode on students’ behavior and performance.
Responses to the survey questionnaire showed that students were more satisfied with the remotely controlled laboratory as compared with a corresponding face-to-face laboratory. They also experienced (as reported and observed) significant levels of student-student and student-instructor interaction in the remotely controlled laboratory. However, when students were interviewed for triangulation purposes, they opined that although remote laboratories were efficient and gave them a feeling of conducting a real experiment, their first preference was for face-to-face laboratories because they valued the importance of gaining hands-on experience of the experiment as an engineering student. Students also believed that working in teams was an important part of their learning and that they preferred remote laboratory work to be introduced at later stage in their learning when they are conceptually more capable and experienced.
The opinions expressed by students therefore pose the following questions that should be addressed when designing the laboratory program for engineering studies:
What is the appropriate study level for remotely controlled laboratory implementation for engineering students? Can remote laboratories help in learning essential personal and professional skills?
What is the best way to integrate a remote laboratory component into an engineering laboratory program so as to prepare engineering students for a workplace where the remote operation of equipment is becoming increasingly common?
This paper will present a discussion of these matters based upon quantitative and qualitative data framed within the requirement that, for accreditation purposes, laboratory work exist not only to develop the technical and scientific competence of students but also to acquire essential personal and professional competencies.
Lal, S., & Lucey, A. D., & Lindsay, E., & Treagust, D. F., & Mocerino, M., & Long, J. M., & Zadnik, M. G. (2018, June), The Effects of Remote Laboratory Implementation on Freshman Engineering Students' Experience Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. https://peer.asee.org/31094
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