A Study on the Effectiveness of an Undergraduate Online Teaching Laboratory With Semantic Mechanism From a Student Perspective

Gustavo Gutiérrez-Carreón, Thanasis Daradoumis, Josep Jorba, Mary-Carmen Peña-Gomar
Journal of Information Technology Education: Innovations in Practice  •  Volume 19  •  2020  •  pp. 137-155

The current study was conducted to investigate the students’ perceived satisfaction with the use of a semantic-based online laboratory, which provides students with a search mechanism for laboratory resources, such as instruments and devices.

The increasing popularity of using online teaching labs, as an important element of experiential learning in STEM education, is because they represent a collection of integrated tools that allow students and teachers to interact and work collaboratively, whereas they provide an enriched learning content delivery mechanism. Moreover, several research studies have proposed various approaches for online teaching laboratories. However, there are hardly any studies that examine the student satisfaction provided by online laboratories based on students’ experiential learning.

To measure the effectiveness of the laboratory, we performed a case study in a Computer Fundamentals online course in which undergraduate students were able to manage devices and instruments remotely. Participants were a sample of 50 third semester students of Bachelor’s degree in Information Technology Administration who were divided in experimental and control groups (online laboratory vs. traditional manner). Given a laboratory assignment, students were able to carry out the management of devices and instruments through a LabView virtual environment and web services. The data of the experiment were collected through two questionnaires from both groups. The first is a system usability score (SUS) questionnaire concerning lab usability and the second one students’ cognitive load.

The results of the study showed a high correlation between usability and cognitive load-satisfaction of students who used the online teaching laboratory compared to the students who did not use it.

On the one hand, the online laboratory provided students with an easy way to share and deploy instruments and devices, thus enhancing system usability. On the other hand, it offered important facilities which enabled students to customize the search for instruments and devices, which certainly had a positive impact on the relationship between cognitive load and satisfaction.

In this work we propose an intuitive laboratory interface as well as easiness to use but challenging and capable of providing similar experiences to the traditional laboratory.

This study is one of the first to analyze the cognitive load-satisfaction relationship and compare it with usability scores.

Our analyses make an important contribution to the literature by suggesting a correlation analysis comparing the results of experimental and control groups that participated in this research work, in terms of usability and cognitive load-satisfaction.

Future work will also investigate other methodological aspects of instructional design with the aim to improve personalized learning and reinforce collaborative experiences, as well as to deal with problems related to laboratory access, such as authentication, scheduling, and interoperability.

online labs, student’s satisfaction, cognitive load, usability
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