<strong>The best of two worlds: A systematic review on combining real and virtual experiments in science education.</strong>

The best of two worlds: A systematic review on combining real and virtual experiments in science education.

By José L. Arco-Tirado, University of Granada (Spain)

A recent study published in the Review of Educational Research examined the relative effectiveness of combining real and virtual experiments versus a single type of experimentation, and which sequence of real and virtual experiments was most effective for the acquisition of scientific literacy.

In contrast to previous reviews focusing on a comparison of real experiments (RE) versus virtual experiments (VE), in this review the authors focused on the effects of combining RE and VE.

The results were based on a sample of 42 studies meeting the inclusion criteria set. In relation to the relative effectiveness of combining real and virtual experiments compared with a single type of experimentation, the results showed that 25 of the 30 studies reported a significant advantage of the experimental groups that used RE and VE in combination, compared to control groups that used only one single experiment type for learning. Four studies reported no difference between the combination groups and the single experiment groups, and only one study reported an advantage of the single RE compared to the combination of a VE preceding the RE and with no signs of  bias or moderation effect by the aspects’ “research design” or “sample size.”

In relation to which sequences of combined RE and VE were most effective, the results of 18 studies were very mixed: Three studies found an advantage of VE-RE, whereas three other studies found an advantage of RE-VE. The remaining 12 studies found no difference between different sequences. This results of this review are limited due to the use of “vote-counting”, which doesn’t allow the results of the individual studies to be statistically combined.  Even so, , no clear conclusion could be drawn about which sequence of experiments was the most effective for conceptual understanding in science.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s