The Efficacy of Online MBL Activities

David Slykhuis
James Madison University

John C. Park
North Carolina State University


The focus of this study was twofold: one, to determine if students could increase their physics content knowledge through the completion of an online hands-on Microcomputer-Based Laboratory (MBL) unit on motion; and two to determine if the demonstrated learning gains were equivalent to those of students who completed the same MBL activities in a more traditional classroom setting with their teacher. One hundred and fifty high school physics students from five diverse high schools participated in the study. Ninety-five were in the classroom group and 55 were in the online group. The online group showed significant comprehension gains from pre-test to post-test. When compared to the classroom group, there was not a significant difference in the gain scores between the two groups. This suggests that further study could lead to the development of online, hands-on physics classes that could be offered to students whose schools do not offer physics due to the lack of resources or physics teachers.

About the Author(s)...

David A. Slykhuis received his PhD in Science Education from North Carolina State University. His research interests lie in both the use of technology in the science classroom and visualizations in science education. Dr. Slykhuis is a member of the Teacher Education Council of the Society of Information Technology and Teacher Education (SITE). His experience includes teaching high school chemistry and physics. Dr. Slykhuis currently is an Assistant Professor at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia. He may be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

John C. Park is an Associate Professor of Science Education in the Department of Mathematics, Science and Technology Education at North Carolina State University. His research includes investigations of student interactions with instructional technology while exploring topics in science. Dr. Park is a member of the Teacher Education Council of the Society of Information Technology and Teacher Education (SITE). Before coming to N.C. State, Dr. Park was a high school science teacher at Ridgement High School in Ridgeway, Ohio.

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