The Effect of Using Virtual Laboratory on the Achievement of 10th Grade Students in Acid- Base and their Attitude toward Chemistry
The Effect of Using Virtual Laboratory on the Achievement of 10th Grade Students in Acid- Base and their Attitude toward Chemistry
أثر استخدام المختبر الافتراضي على تحصيل طلاب الصف العاشر في مادة الحموضة وموقفهم من الكيمياء
وفاء محمّد قاووقWafaa Mohamad Kaouk)(
The purpose of this study is to investigate the effect of virtual laboratory on the achievement of tenth grade students and their attitude toward chemistry. The convenience sample of the study consisted of 62 students at an official secondary school in Mount Lebanon who were divided into control group (32 students) and experimental group (30 students). The quantitative research method that was adopted for collecting data is quasi-experimental in nature. In particular, the pre-test and post-test experimental control group design was used. For this aim, 15 virtual experiments about the unit “acid-base” were installed by “Crocodile Chemistry 605” software and used by the experimental group. On the other hand, the control group was taught the same unit by the traditional lecture method. The “Chemistry Achievement Test”(CAT) and the “Attitude toward the Study of Chemistry Inventory “(ASCI) were used as instruments. The data collected were analyzed using an independent sample t-test. The findings of this study showed that there is a significant difference in terms of ‘achievement’ between students who were exposed to the virtual laboratory and those who were exposed to the traditional method. Moreover, the results of the “ASCI” revealed that there is a significant difference in terms of ‘attitude’ between students of both groups in favor of the experimental group.
Keywords: Virtual laboratory, Tradition method, achievement, attitude, acid-base.
يهدف هذا البحث الى دراسة تأثير المختبر الافتراضي على التحصيل الدراسي للطلاب وموقفهم تجاه الكيمياء. تكونت عينة الدراسة من 26 طالبًا من الصف العاشرفي مدرسة رسمية في جبل لبنان. قُسِّم الطلاب بشكل عشوائي إلى مجموعتين :مجموعة ضابطة ( 32 طالبًا) ومجموعة تجريبية (30 طالبًا). اعتُمِد “البحث الكمي” لجمع البيانات. على وجه الخصوص، استُخدِم تصميم المجموعة الضابطة التّجريبيّة الاختبار القبلي و البعدي للبيانات الكمية. البحث الكمي هو بحث شبه تجريبي بطبيعته. لهذا الهدف طُبِّقت 15 تجربة افتراضية حول وحدة “القاعدة الحمضية” واستُخدِمت في المجموعة التجريبية. من ناحية أخرى ، وعُلِّمتِ المجموعة الضابطة الوحدة نفسها بالطريقة التقليديّة. استُخدِم “اختبار التحصيل في الكيمياء” (CAT) و “الموقف من دراسة جرد الكيمياء” (ASCI) كأدوات للبحث. حُلّلِت البيانات التي جُمِعت باستخدام اختبارt- المستقل للعينة. أظهرت نتائج هذه الدراسة أن هناك فرقًا معنويًا لجهة “التحصيل الدراسي” بين الطلاب الذين تعرضوا للمختبر الافتراضي وأولئك الذين تعرضوا للطريقة التقليدية. علاوة على ذلك ، حددت نتائج “ASCI” أن هناك فرقًا كبيرًا لجهة “الموقف” بين طلاب المجموعتين و ذلك لصالح المجموعة التجربية.
الكلمات المفتاحية: المختبر الافتراضي، الطريقة التقليدية، التحصيل الدراسي، الموقف، القاعدة الحمضية.
Chemistry is one of the major science subjects studied in the secondary school. It appears from the literature that chemistry is perceived by students as a challenging subject, since it is difficult to construct the abstract concepts frequently encountered in the subject area (Ayas & Demirbas, 1997). Previous studies in science education showed that students struggle to understand the concepts related to acid-base (Drechsler & Schmidt, 2005). Students’ failure rate in chemistry has been traced to lack of facilities for chemistry practical in schools (Gambari, Obielodan, & Kawu, 2017). Laboratory applications are complementary of chemistry instruction and they are major parts in chemistry lessons (Altun, Demirdag, Feyzioglu, Ate, & Cobanog, 2009). Students need practical experiences to enable them understand some abstracts concepts in chemistry, therefore, effective use of laboratory equipment and facilities can improve the mastery of chemistry concepts (Gambari, Obielodan, & Kawu, 2017). Although the literature showed that experiment technique is a favorable and useful technique for students, there are also some limitations in implementing it such as safety concerns, lack of self-confidence, lack of equipment, time shortage, weakness of confirmation method (Tatli & Ayas, 2013). Hence, in order to avoid limitations and troubles in experiment technique, alternative techniques that allow getting data in a shorter time can be used without changing the concept of curriculum. One of these techniques is the virtual experiment technique. It is a simulation-based technique performed with virtual experiment tools in computer environment (Liu, Lin & Kinshuk, 2010). The virtual learning approach is based on constructivist learning theory (Huang & Liaw, 2018; McHaney, Reiter & Reychav, 2018). Virtual laboratory has been related to constructivism since students are at the center of the learning by doing. Rather than being passive recipients of instruction, they are actively involved in constructing knowledge (Hogan, 2005). Interactive learning environment by using simulations for abstract topic, where students become active in their learning, provide opportunities for students to construct and understand difficult concepts more easily (Tuysuz, 2010). In terms of knowledge acquisition, using the virtual laboratory is better than science classes without visualization elements since it helps students understand higher cognitive levels (Herga & Dinevski, 2012).
Students’ underachievement in chemistry and their negative attitude toward chemistry appear to have persisted which is often blamed on poor teaching methods adopted (Ajayi, 2017). This situation makes students to become disenchanted and apathetic towards chemistry (Ikwuka & Samuel, 2017). This is very much the case in most schools in Lebanon where chemistry is taught for the first time as a separate subject in grades seven, eight and nine (Chamseddine, 2007). Today, in science teaching, the experiment technique is one of the most preferred techniques used for providing effective and permanent learning, for attracting students’ attention, and for learning by living (Sari & Yilmaz, 2015). The Center for Educational Research and Development (CERD) in Lebanon, established and categorized competencies that must be developed in science into four domains. One of them is mastering experimental techniques (CERD, 1995). But unfortunately, the experiment technique is not used in most Lebanese schools, particularly the public ones, due to a number of barriers (Zgheib, 2013). Based on a long experience as a chemistry teacher for secondary classes in Lebanon since 1999, many obstacles forced the chemistry teachers to perform a demonstrational activity or to cancel the laboratory applications. Some of these obstacles were: the absence of well-equipped laboratory, limitation of laboratory equipment, expensive laboratory materials, insufficient laboratory conditions, large number of students, difficulty in checking students’ performance during the activities in over-crowded classes, limited time allocated for the topic, insecurity in laboratories because of dangerous chemicals. When taking these limitations into consideration looking for appropriate alternatives is inevitable. According to Herga et al. (2014), virtual laboratory can replace real laboratory work which, for economical or other reasons, cannot be implemented.
Virtual laboratory is a lab performed through simulations using a computer application that is used to reinforce the learning material that will be practiced, and at the same time can also be used as a substitute for the lab if equipment and materials limitations and problems are found (Tuysuz, 2010). The general view is that the virtual laboratory is learner-centered and inquiry-based, which promotes higher levels of thinking and retention (Herga & Dinevski, 2012). Virtual laboratories may contribute to teaching and learning processes by giving students opportunities such as improving their experiment related skills such as manipulating materials and equipment, collecting data, completing experiment process in an interactive way, and preparing experiment reports (Subramanian & Marsic, 2001). It is believed that virtual laboratory is a learning environment in which students convert their theoretical knowledge into practical knowledge by conducting experiments (Tatli & Ayas, 2013). Many researchers believed that it improves students’ correlation of macroscopic, sub-microscopic and symbolic levels of scientific presentation (Velazquez-Marcano, Williamson, Ashkenazi, Tasker, & Williamson, 2004).
The virtual laboratory equipment can be more easily assembled and more properly used than real laboratory equipment, and therefore are more time efficient than traditional hands-on laboratories (Reese, 2013). The use of virtual laboratory overcomes some of the problems faced in real laboratory equipment such as time shortage, expensive lab materials, safety concerns, weaknesses of confirmation method and checking performance (Ali, Ullah, Rabbi, & Alam, 2014). In addition, several empirical studies have recommended the adoption of virtual labs to support diverse learning styles (Sun & Cheng, 2007). Despite all advantages, some researchers highlighted certain disadvantages such the lack of students’ hands-on approach, the lack of laboratory partner which may facilitate peer-learning (Scheckler, 2003).
In the related literature, several studies addressed the use of virtual laboratories in science especially in chemistry education. For example, O¨zmen (2007) examined the effect of computer-assisted instruction (CAI) on conceptual understanding of chemical bonding and attitude toward chemistry. The results showed that CAI improves 11th grade students’ achievement and attitude. Moreover, students exposed to CAI were more successful in remediation of alternative conceptions. Similar findings were obtained by Tuysuz (2010) with 9th grade students where virtual laboratory applications made positive effects on students’ achievements and attitudes when compared to traditional teaching method but in the unit ’Separation of matter’.
The impact of virtual laboratories on academic achievement and learning motivation of the students of Sudanese secondary school were investigated by Kamtor (2016). The results revealed statistically significant differences in terms of achievement and learning motivation in favor of the students who taught by virtual laboratory. Some researchers (Ikwuka & Samuel, 2017) even argued that performing experiments within Computer Animation Chemistry Instruction CACI had significant effect on students’ academic achievement in Chemistry and gender in favor of males. Furthermore, and according to Gambari, Obielodan & Kawu (2017), instructions carried out with virtual laboratories significantly increase student achievement levels in individualized and collaborative settings.
In this content, the laboratory approach is regarded as an indispensable element of chemistry education, and students subjected to virtual laboratory instruction may exhibit higher achievement scores, positive attitude, deeper attention, and more frequent participation in chemistry course. Moreover, the interactive nature of such teaching methods offers a clear and enjoyable learning environment (Ardac & Akaygun, 2004).
On the other hand, Tatli & Ayas (2013) claimed that there is no difference between virtual laboratory and real laboratory. The researchers found that the virtual chemistry laboratory software was as effective as the real laboratory when assessed in terms of student achievement in the chemical-changes unit and students’ ability to recognize laboratory equipment. In contrast, Stuckey-Mickell and Stuckey-Danner (2007) reported that students considered the face-to-face laboratory courses to be more effective than virtual laboratory simulation.
Few studies were done in the Lebanese context that confirmed the effectiveness of virtual laboratory on student’s achievement in biology (Harbali, 2017) and on students’ learning of the physics (Yehya, Barbar, & Abou-Rjelil, 2019). One of the studies done in Lebanon in this domain is the one done by Faour & Ayoubi (2018). Although the results of Faour & Ayoubi (2018) revealed that using virtual laboratory showed a significant improvement on students’ conceptual understanding of the direct current electric circuit, no significant difference on students’ attitudes towards physics has been shown too.
In the light of this, literatures on the findings of virtual laboratory have not been consistent and those on the use of virtual laboratories in chemistry are scarce in the Arab countries in general and in the Lebanese context in particular, to the knowledge of the researcher. Lebanese students rarely used the virtual lab and the new technology in their learning process due to many barriers (Zgheib, 2013). Therefore, there is a need to carry out a study on Lebanese learners and urge the researcher to investigate the effect of virtual laboratory on the achievement of tenth grade students’ and their attitude towards chemistry.
Purpose of the study
The purpose of the study is to investigate the effect of virtual laboratory on the achievement of tenth grade students and on their attitude toward chemistry in the unit entitled ”Acid-Base” at in an official secondary school in Mount Lebanon.
Based on the above, the researcher aimed to seek answers of the following questions:
- Is there any significant difference in terms of ‘achievement’ between students who were exposed to the virtual lab and those who were exposed to the traditional method?
- Is there any significant difference in terms of ‘attitude’ between students who were exposed to the virtual lab and those who were exposed to the traditional method?
The quantitative research design was used which is quasi-experimental in nature. This is because it is not possible to randomize students into experimental and control groups. Precisely, a pretest-posttest experimental control group research design was used as shown in table 1.
Table 1. Summary of Research Design
|Use of virtual lab|| ASCI
|Use of traditional
Note. EG represents experimental group, CG represents control group. CAT represents Chemistry Achievement Test; ASCI represents Attitude toward the study of Chemistry Inventory.
The independent variable of the study is the method of teaching: Virtual laboratory versus Traditional method while the dependent variables are the academic achievement and the attitude toward chemistry.
Sample of the study
The sample of the study consisted of 62 students of grade 10 at an official secondary school in Mount Lebanon that uses English language as a medium of instruction, during the academic year 2021-2022. The sample was a convenience sampling since the participants were already in each class. The selection of these two sections was based on the average score of the previous grades in chemistry (11 and 10.6), the same characteristics of the gender in each section (50% males and 50% females), aged 14 to 16 years old, and the two sections have approximately same number of students (30-32 students). The students were divided into two groups (32 students as control group and 30 students as experimental group) by simple sampling.
Data Collection Instruments
Two instruments were used to collect data during the study, the Chemistry Achievement Test (CAT) and Attitude toward the Study of Chemistry Inventory (ASCI).
Chemistry Achievement Test (CAT)
It is a paper-and-pencil instrument made by the researcher and introduced as post-test in order to assess students’ achievement and to compare the efficiency of virtual laboratory and traditional method. CAT included 30 multiple choice items that cover the objectives of the unit “Acid-base” within the scope of grade 10’s chemistry curriculum. Each item of the multiple-choice questions consisted of four options. Only one is correct and the other three are distracters. To test the content validity and to ensure that the test actually measures what is intended to measure, the researcher presented the test and the corresponding objectives to two chemistry teachers and a chemistry coordinator having more than 20 years’ experience in the secondary teaching. They asserted that the test was valid and adequate to grade 10 chemistry’ curriculum. Moreover, the instrument was pilot-tested on thirty grade 10 students who were formerly instructed in the “Acid-Base” unit in similar characteristic school outside the accessible population area.
Attitude toward the Study of Chemistry Inventory (ASCI)
Attitude toward the Study of Chemistry Inventory (ASCI) which was developed by Bauer (2008) and then adapted by Xu & Lewis (2011) was used in order to quantify and analyze student’s attitudes toward chemistry. It is a good candidate for several reasons. Firstly, the test purpose is clearly stated, to measure the attitude towards chemistry in general, not the specific course or instructor (Xu & Lewis, 2011). Secondly, it is designed in the 7-point semantic differential format: “Students position themselves on a seven-point scale between two polar adjectives, in reference to how they feel about the attitude object ‘chemistry’” (Xu, 2010). Using exploratory factor analysis, Bauer (2008) reported that the items were grouped into five subscales: interest and utility (including five items), fear (one item), emotional satisfaction (four items), intellectual accessibility (five items), and anxiety producing (five items). The inventory contained 20 items (6 positive and 14 negative). The items (1, 3, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 19 and 20) are negatively stated and the rest are positive (Xu, X., 2010). Ratings ranged from 1 to 7 for the 6 positive statements, the reverse ratings, 7 to 1, were used for the 14 negative statements. Thus, the maximum total score that could be achieved on the ASCI was 140. The reliability and validity of the scale were established by the developer and many other researchers. The ASCI was originally validated in the United States on undergraduates majoring in chemistry (Bauer, 2008). The alpha reliability coefficient has been found to be 0.82. Further studies (Xu & Lewis, 2011; Xu, Villafane, & Lewis, 2013) have confirmed this internal data structure, by consistently showing that both affective and cognitive sub-scales are contained within ASCI. Thus, we are confident that the instrument used to quantify attitude was appropriate and valid.
In order to determine whether the use of virtual laboratory improves tenth grade students’ achievement and their attitude toward chemistry, the following procedure was implemented: After seeking the approval of the ministry of education to conduct the study at the chosen school, the sample was assigned into two groups: Group A (30 students) was chosen to be the experimental group while Group B (32 students) was chosen to be the control group. Both groups had two periods of 50 minutes each per week. The study was implemented during the second semester (March- May) of the 2021-2022 academic year and for a period of 7 weeks. Because there were 10 computers available for the study, students of the experimental group were grouped before the intervention (3 students per group) into ability levels (high, medium and low) based on their average score in the previous chemistry grades. Grouping was achieved as follows: Ten students who scored highest were selected as high achievers, and among the ten who scored lowest were selected as low achievers. Ten among those who scored above average were selected as average achievers. In each group, there was one high, one average and one low-achiever. At the beginning of this study, ASCI was administrated (in paper format) to both groups as a pre-test, in order to determine whether there is an equivalence in attitude towards chemistry prior to the intervention. Students in both groups were given clear instruction about completing the inventory and 20 minutes time to complete it. All data was collected anonymously without individual identification. A computer training session for the students of the experimental group was conducted during one period of 50 minutes, in which the teacher introduced the “Crocodile Chemistry 605” software, to ensure that they are competent in using it before the implementation of the study.
Based on the curriculum objectives and the CAT objectives, 15 experimental activities (figure 1) about the unit “Acid-Base” were installed by “Crocodile Chemistry 605” software, which will be discussed in the next paragraph, and were used by the experimental group. On the other hand, the control group students were taught the same unit by the traditional method. Finally, students of both groups were tested, for 50 minutes, using the CAT. In addition, the same ASCI was administered as post-test to both groups after the intervention.
Figure1. Sample of the Computer Animation Used.
Crocodile Chemistry 605
“Crocodile Chemistry 605” software designed to computer by the British Company Crocodile is one example of the virtual laboratories’ software. It is an electronic lab that enables students to easily set up their own experiments and designing different ones as well. The materials required for an experiment are chosen from the menu. The software lets you simulate experiments safely and easily, choosing from over 100 chemicals, and controlling the amounts and concentrations you use. A large number of ready-made experiments can be found, as well as various tools that assist in the implementation of any experiment you would like to test. During the learning process, a student is presented with specific tasks and must master them before going to the next level. Moreover, it allows students to repeat any incorrect experiment several times at their own pace. This program is interactive and enable students to control the pace and sequence of their learning (Driscoll, 2000). It allows students to work independently or in groups, where the interface gradually leads them step by step through the virtual experiment (Herga, Grmek, & Dinevski, 2014). Hence, it develops for the students the principle of self –learning and the concept of “learning by doing” (Bruner, 1990). It also allows students to receive immediate feedback and correct their faulty understanding of a concept (Smetana & Bell 2012; Stone 2007). The virtual laboratory enables a simultaneous demonstration of all three levels of a chemical concept along with dynamic visualization at the submicroscopic level (Herga & Dinevski, 2012). In this way, students can learn chemistry by viewing molecular animations side-by side with graphical output and chemical formulae (O¨zmen, 2007). The use of diagrams of the submicro level provides a more complete picture of the reaction, rather than a net summary of a chemical equation, leading to a deeper conceptual understanding (Davidowitz, Chittleborough, & Murray, 2010). Upon the features discussed above, the researcher used the “Crocodile Chemistry 605” to perform virtual experiments in this study.
Results related to Research Question one
To answer the first research question, descriptive statistics (mean and standard deviation) and an independent T-test were conducted on the post-test scores of CAT for both groups.
Mean (M) = Sum (Total grades)
Total nb. of students
The standard deviation (SD) can be thought of measuring how far the data values lie from the mean. To test whether the contribution of virtual laboratory or the traditional method produces an improvement in the achievement of grade 10 students, a comparison between the post-test scores of both groups was done. Figure 2 displays the mean scores of both groups on the CAT post-test. It indicates that the mean scores of the experimental group after the use of virtual laboratory are higher than those of the control group.
Figure 2. Mean scores of CAT post-test
Moreover, table 2 showed that the standard deviation of experimental group is less than that of the control group. This means that the scores are to a certain extent spread close to the mean, which showed a significant difference in the achievement of the two groups. The finding also revealed that 78.125% of the control group passed the test and scored above 15 while all the students of the experimental group passed the test.
Table 2. Independent samples t-test comparing CAT post-test scores
|Standard deviation||Mean difference||
In addition, the researcher conducted an independent T-test to compare the post-test scores of both groups. The findings showed that the mean score of the control group is 19.875, while that of the experimental group is 23.3, with t (calculated) = 3.02, and t (theoretical) =1.67. Since t (calculated) > t (theoretical) then the observed mean difference was significant at 0.05 level of significance as shown in table 2. Thus, a significant difference was found between the scores of the two groups.
Results related to Research Question two
In the aim of investigating whether the contribution of each teaching method (virtual laboratory versus traditional method) produced a better positive attitude towards chemistry, the researcher compared the means of the total score of ASCI before and after the implementation of the study, for both groups. Figure 3 displays, for each of the two groups, the mean of the total score of ASCI of the pre-test and the post-test. As shown in Figure 5, the mean of the total score of both groups in the pre-test and in the post-test were higher than the average point of 80 indicating slightly positive attitude for both groups. The mean of the total score of the CG was approximately equal to that of the EG in the pre-test, whereas it was lower in the post-test. The mean of the total score of both groups were increased to some degree from the pre-test to the post-test but the mean score of the EG was higher in the post-test. The mean difference for the EG (89.8 to 96.5) was 6.5.
Figure 3. Mean scores of ASCI for both groups.
Then, an independent T-test was conducted to compare the ASCI pre-test total scores for the two groups. The results of the total score showed that no statistically significant differences were found between the total scores of both groups (tcalculated = 0.05 < ttheoretical =1.671) at a significance level p = 0.05 as shown in table 3, suggesting that both groups were similar in respect of attitude before the implementation of the study. As there were no statistically significant differences between the pre-test scores of both groups, the post-test scores were compared using a T-test. The results showed a statistically significant difference between groups in favor of the experimental group (tcalculated = 2.82 > t theoretical= 1.671), with regard to their attitude. Moreover, there were a statistically significant differences between the pre-test and the post-test scores of the experimental group in favor of post-test (tcalculated = 2.92 > t theoretical= 1.671), suggesting an improvement in the attitude of students of the experimental group before and after the intervention.
|Table 3. Independent samples t-test comparing ASCI pre-test and post-test scores|
Descriptive statistics were shown in table 4 for each item organized by each subscale in the pre-test of both groups with all 14 negatively stated items recoded before the intervention. The average item scores of the ASCI pre-test for both groups before the intervention ranged from 2.63 to 6.2, and standard deviations ranged from 0.97 to 2.4. For the control group, the mean scores for the five items in “interest and utility” subscale were 5.38, 4.09, 6.06, 5.72 and 5.66, which are all above the middle point (4), suggesting students feel chemistry is interesting and useful. The item mean scores for the “Anxiety” subscale were 3.28, 5.59, 2.75, 3.69 and 2.78, which suggests students think chemistry is not anxiety producing. For the “intellectual accessibility” subscale, the item means were 4.16, 4.56, 5.56, 2.59 and 5.06, which indicates they normally think chemistry is intellectually accessible. For the “emotional satisfaction” subscale, the item means were 5.19, 5.38, 4.59 and 4.41, which means they are emotionally satisfied. For the “fear” subscale, the item mean was 3.22, which means they don’t think chemistry dangerous.
Items 6 have the highest mean, and item 10 has the lowest mean, which indicates they feel chemistry is good rather than bad, and is challenging.
For the experimental group, the mean scores for the five items in “interest and utility” subscale were 5.33, 5.23, 5.70, 5.40 and 5.57, which are all above the middle point (4), suggesting average students feel chemistry is interesting and useful. The item mean scores for the “Anxiety” subscale were 3.60, 5.50, 2.67, 3.53 and 2.97, which suggests students think chemistry is not anxiety producing. For the “intellectual accessibility” subscale, the item means were 4.53, 4.77, 5.00, 2.73 and 4.87, which indicates they normally think chemistry is intellectually accessible. For the “emotional satisfaction” subscale, the item means were 4.63, 4.93, 4.67 and 5.00, which means they are emotionally satisfied. For the “fear” subscale, the item mean was 3.17, which means they don’t think chemistry dangerous. Items 6 has the highest mean, and item 8 has the lowest mean, which indicates they feel chemistry is good, and is fun rather than scary.
Table 4. Descriptive statistics of the ASCI pre-test scores
|Item in each subscale||Mean||SD||Mean||SD|
|Interest & Utility||CG||(N=32)||EG||(N=30)|
Note. *Negative items. Item score is reversed before averaging.
On the other hand, for the control group, the mean scores for the five items in “interest and utility” subscale in the post-test were 4.97, 4.97, 5.47, 5.44 and 5.22 as shown in table 5, which are all above the middle point (4), suggesting average students still feel chemistry interesting and useful. The item mean scores for the “Anxiety” subscale were 3.63, 5.03, 2.81, 3.53 and 2.75, which suggests students still think chemistry is not anxiety producing. For the “intellectual accessibility” subscale, the item means were 4.05, 4.41, 5.59, 2.59 and 5.56, which indicates that they think chemistry intellectually accessible. For the “emotional satisfaction” subscale, the item means were 5.28, 5.63, 4.97 and 4.97, which means they are emotionally satisfied. For the “fear” subscale, the item mean was 3.22, which means they don’t think chemistry dangerous. Items 1 has the highest mean, and item 10 has the lowest mean, which indicates that they feel chemistry is easy rather than hard, and is still challenging.
For the experimental group, the mean scores for the five items in “interest and utility” subscale were 5.17, 5.70, 5.87, 5.43 and 5.73, which are all above the middle point (4), suggesting average students still feel chemistry interesting and useful. The item mean scores for the “Anxiety” subscale were 3.27, 5.8, 2.83, 4.37 and 2.73, which suggests students still think chemistry is not anxiety producing. For the “intellectual accessibility” subscale, the item means were 4.73, 4.57, 5.37, 3.43 and 5.10, which indicates that they think chemistry is intellectually accessible. For the “emotional satisfaction” subscale, the item means were 5.73, 5.67, 5.06 and 5.47, which means they are still emotionally satisfied. For the “fear” subscale, the item mean was 3.73, which means they don’t think chemistry dangerous. Items 6 has the highest mean, and item 13 has the lowest mean, which indicates they feel chemistry is good rather than bad, and is attractive rather than disgusting.
Table 5. Descriptive statistics of the ASCI post-test scores
|Item in each subscale||Mean||SD||Mean||SD|
|Interest & Utility||CG||(N=32)||EG||(N=30)|
Note. *Negative items. Item score was reversed before averaging.
Discussion Related to Research Question One
To assess the effect of the use of virtual laboratory on students’ achievement, data collected from CAT were analyzed. The analysis of the CAT post-test results showed that students of the experimental group that used the virtual laboratory performed significantly higher than those of the control group who were taught through traditional method. The CAT test scores showed a significant difference between the two groups and affirmed clearly that the use of virtual laboratory induced a considerable change in students’ achievement in the acid-base concepts. This result may be due to the ability of the virtual laboratory (Crocodile Chemistry 605) to provide visual representations of the experimental procedures and the microscopic level of the concepts which cannot be done by the tradition method. Therefore, the importance of virtual laboratories arises from its ability to provide a simultaneous demonstration of all three levels of a chemical concept along with dynamic visualization at the submicroscopic level (Herga, Čagran & Dinevski, 2012).
The result of the study supported the views of some previous researchers where similar findings reported in the literature which showed positive effects of the virtual laboratory on the student achievement in chemistry (Pyatt & Sims, 2007; Tatli & Ayas, 2013; Sari & Yilmaz, 2015; Kamtor, 2016; Omilani, Ochanya, & Aminu, 2016; Gambari, 2017; Samuel, 2017). Although the results of this study supported that the use of virtual laboratory has effect on students’ achievement, the researcher does not claim that virtual laboratory is more effective than the real laboratory activities. Instead, virtual chemistry laboratory can be an alternative in case real laboratory activities cannot be performed for reasons such as dangerous chemical reactions, time concerns, lack of laboratory equipment, or insufficient lab conditions.
Discussion Related to Research Question Two
In order to answer research question two, data collected from ASCI were analyzed. The results showed that both groups were similar in terms of their attitude toward chemistry before the intervention. Both groups felt chemistry interesting and useful, intellectually accessible, emotional satisfying, not anxiety producing and not dangerous. The results showed also that both groups after the intervention still feel chemistry interesting and useful, intellectually accessible, emotional satisfying, not anxiety producing and not dangerous, which indicates that they still have a positive attitude toward chemistry. But in general, the findings affirmed that there is a significant improvement in the attitude of the experimental group students toward chemistry.
Similar findings reported in the literature which points to positive effects of virtual lab on student’s attitude toward chemistry and suggested that virtual laboratory-based teaching improves student attitude toward chemistry (O¨zmen, 2007; Pyatt & Sims, 2007; Tuyuz, 2010; Sari & Yilmaz, 2015). One of the possible reasons behind these results can be attributed to the fact that the participating students came from official school that, according to Zgheib (2013), lack the presence of integrated technology system. The use of virtual laboratory enables students to realize experiments on computers, something not common at official schools. They gained a new experience in an enriched learning environment-seeing, doing, interpreting, and interacting with computers and most probably they could now see that chemistry may not be as difficult as they thought. Improvement in attitude may of course in some part be due to simply that they enjoyed using virtual laboratory.
The analysis of the collected data showed that the mean score of the experimental group students was higher when compared to that of the control group. Thus, the achievement of the experimental group students significantly improved in “Acid-Base”. Moreover, the gathered data presented a significant difference between the two groups in terms of attitude in favor of the experimental group. These results led to the conclusion that:
- The use of virtual lab has better effect on the achievement of students in the “Acid-Base” unit as compared to traditional method.
- The use of virtual lab improves students’ attitude toward chemistry more than the tradition method.
- The use of virtual laboratory provided considerable support for tenth grade students.
The implementation of this study and the analysis of its results proposed some recommendations for future researchers. First, in order to generalize the findings, it is important to conduct a similar study in different context and on other concepts like chemical reactions or in the units where experiments cannot be performed in the school laboratory to provide comparative data on the impact of virtual laboratory on the overall students’ performance and attitude toward chemistry. Second, other studies could involve wider population samples, extend the subjects to younger learners in cycle three (Grade 7-9). Third, development of a study that extends over a longer span of time to assess the impact of virtual laboratory on other skills.
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