Examining the combination of Physical and virtual experiments In an inquiry science classroom
Smith, Garrett W.
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Physical investigations and computer simulations have often been used independently in inquiry science classrooms. This study investigates the benefits of combining physical and virtual experiments when learning about pulleys in a middle school science classroom and whether the sequence of activities impacts student conceptual understanding. Students conducted either a physical experiment followed by a virtual experiment, or a virtual experiment followed by a physical experiment. The students who conducted the physical experiment followed by the virtual experiment outperformed those who conducted the experiments in the reverse order. Furthermore, these results were driven largely by particular concepts and situations related to the designed affordances of the physical and virtual experiments. The results suggest that combining physical and virtual experiments can improve conceptual understanding and that the sequence of physical and virtual activities can have important effects on learning.