Using Virtual Laboratories as Preparation to a Practical Laboratory Course: Preliminary Empirical Investigation

  • Ansgar Scherp Institute of Computer Science and Business Informatics Research Group on Data and Web Science University of Mannheim, Germany
  • Jutta Meier Institute for Integrated Natural Sciences Research Group on Microbiology University of Koblenz-Landau, Germany


Virtual laboratories are a specific kind of e-learning application. They allow students of natural sciences to conduct experiments in a highly-interactive almost photorealistic virtual environment built into the computer as simulation engine. Goal of virtual laboratories is to train the student’s procedural knowledge that is needed for conducting experiments in a real laboratory environment. Students can train themselves comfortably in a secure environment using the computer and without wasting precious resources such as substances and devices. Despite the existence of virtual laboratories for a while now, there exist to the best of our knowledge so far no empirical study that investigates the actual impact of using virtual laboratories as preparation to a practical laboratory course. In this paper, we present the design and results of a preliminary study conducted using the virtual laboratory GenLab for genetics and genetic engineering. While one group of students (n=18) did receive a training using GenLab prior to real laboratory experimentation, the others did not (n=14). We have measured the task performance for two typical experiments in genetics of different complexity. In addition, we have recorded the students’ own assessment of the experiment complexity and comprehensibility. The results show that there is a statistically significant difference for the more complex experiment task, while it has not been observed for the less complex one.


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How to Cite
SCHERP, Ansgar; MEIER, Jutta. Using Virtual Laboratories as Preparation to a Practical Laboratory Course: Preliminary Empirical Investigation. International SERIES on Information Systems and Management in Creative eMedia (CreMedia), [S.l.], n. 2013/2, p. 16-20, aug. 2013. ISSN 2341-5576. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 23 oct. 2020.


Virtual Laboratories, Summative Evaluation, E-learning, Genetics, Genetic Engineering
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