Towards enhancing laboratory education by the development and evaluation of the "TriLab": a triple access mode (virtual, hands-on and remote) laboratory
2010-06-17T15:17:46Z (GMT) by
This thesis contributes to the general body of knowledge of research into engineering education. The main scope of the thesis is on enhancing laboratory education. There are three main types of laboratory: virtual, hands-on and remote. The hands-on lab is the oldest and most commonly used medium for experiential education in undergraduate degrees of science and engineering. The literature review of laboratory education has shown that hands-on labs suffer from many disadvantages, which can be overcome by utilizing hybrid laboratory structures that incorporate virtual and/or remote modes. The investigation into enhanced laboratory education is achieved via implementing new technical and pedagogical models of conducting laboratories. The technical model incorporates three access modes (virtual, hands-on and remote) to the laboratory experience in one software package called the TriLab. The TriLab concept has been applied to the Process Control Lab at the Chemical Engineering Department of Loughborough University and has been implemented using LabVIEW. The Joomla web content management system was used to develop an online portal for disseminating the remote component of the TriLab resulting in the first remote lab portal of Loughborough University and one of the few available in the UK. A pedagogical model of laboratory education based on Kolb’s experiential learning theory and by the utilization of the TriLab concept is proposed. The model is built on a hypothesis, which states that the poor learning outcomes of hands-on laboratory sessions can be associated with poor activation of the stages of Kolb’s experiential learning cycle. It has been proposed that access to a virtual lab in a preparatory session will play a role in activating the stages of Kolb’s cycle. To verify this, educational experimentation procedures were designed and applied to two groups, control and experimental. Measurements via pre- and post-lab tests, marks for the laboratory report and the final exam of the module have been performed. The statistical analysis of the measurements has supported the stated hypothesis and solution proposal. The proposed pedagogical model is one of the few that provide a way of conducting laboratory education based on constructivist educational theories. (Continues...).