Gifted pupils’ learning experience in virtual laboratories


  • Hasan Özgür Kapıcı Bogazici University
  • Fatma Coştu


Gifted students, conceptual knowledge, inquiry skills, science education


One of the main courses that have been affected by instructional technology is science education since the nature of topics covered by the science curriculum may require the usage of technology to teach them better. Based on this, the aim of the current study is to investigate the effects of virtual laboratories on the development of gifted students’ conceptual knowledge and the improvement of inquiry skills. A total of 43 sixth-grade gifted students were the participants. Whereas there were 22 students in the control group, in which hands-on experimentation was followed, 21 sixth-grade students were involved in the experimental condition, where virtual laboratory environments were used. Two different data-gathering tools, a multiple-choice conceptual knowledge test and inquiry skills test, were used in this study. The results revealed that although both groups enhanced their conceptual knowledge and improved their inquiry skills throughout the study, the students in the experimental group reached significantly higher scores than their counterparts for both of the tests. Several suggestions were done for both science teachers and researchers concerning the outcomes of the current study.


Download data is not yet available.


Achuthan, K., & Murali, S. S. (2015). A comparative study of educational laboratories from cost and learning effectiveness perspective. In R. Silhavy, R. Senkerik, Z. K. Oplatkova, Z. Prokopova, & P. Silhavy (Eds.), Proceedings of the 4th Computer Science On-line Conference 2015 (pp. 143-153). Springer International Publishing.

Aktamış, H., (2007). Fen eğitiminde bilimsel süreç becerilerinin bilimsel yaratıcılığa etkisi: 7.sınıf fizik ünitesi örneği. Doktara tezi, Dokuz Eylül Üniversitesi, İzmir.

Brinson, J. R. (2015). Learning outcome achievement in non-traditional (virtual and remote) versus traditional (hands-on) laboratories: A review of the empirical research. Computers & Education, 87, 218-237.

Bumbacher, E., Salehi, S., Wieman, C., & Blikstein, P. (2018). Tools for science inquiry learning: Tool affordances, experimentation strategies, and conceptual understanding. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 27(3), 215-235.

Burkett, V. C. & Smith, C. (2016). Simulated vs. hands-on laboratory position paper. Electronic Journal of Science Education, 20(9), 8-24.

Darrah, M., Humbert, R., Finstein, J., Simon, M., & Hopkins, J. (2014). Are virtual labs as effective as hands-on labs for undergraduate physics? A comparative study at two major universities. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 23(6), 803-814.

de Jong, T., & Lazonder, A. (2014). The guided discovery principle in multimedia learning. In R. E. Mayer (Ed.), The Cambridge handbook of multimedia learning (2nd ed., pp. 371-390). Cambridge University Press.

de Jong, T., & Van Joolingen, W. R. (1998). Scientific discovery learning with computer simulations of conceptual domains. Review of Educational Research, 68(2), 179-201.

Deveci, Ö. (2010). İlköğretim altıncı sınıf fen ve teknoloji dersi kuvvet ve hareket ünitesinde fen-matematik entegrasyonunun akademik başarı ve kalıcılık üzerine etkisi. Yüksek Lisans tezi, Çukurova Üniversitesi, Adana.

Finkelstein, N. D., Adams, W. K., Keller, C. J., Kohl, P. B., Perkins, K. K., Podolefsky, N. S., & Reid, S. (2005). When learning about the real world is better done virtually: A study of substituting computer simulations for laboratory equipment. Physical Review Special Topics-Physics Education Research, 1(1), 1-8.

Geban, Ö., Askar, P., & Özkan, Ï. (1992). Effects of computer simulations and problem-solving approaches on high school students. The Journal of Educational Research, 86(1), 5-10.

Gire, E., Carmichael, A., Chini, J. J., Rouinfar, A., Rebello, S., Smith, G., & Puntambekar, S. (2010, June). The effects of physical and virtual manipulatives on students' conceptual learning about pulleys. Paper presented at the International Conference of the Learning Sciences, Chicago, IL.

Hensen, C., & Barbera, J. (2019). Assessing affective differences between a virtual general chemistry experiment and a similar hands-on experiment. Journal of Chemical Education, 96(10), 2097-2108.

Hensen, C., Glinowiecka-Cox, G., & Barbera, J. (2020). Assessing differences between three virtual general chemistry experiments and similar hands-on experiments. Journal of Chemical Education, 97(3), 616-625.

Hofstein, A., & Lunetta, V. N. (2004). The laboratory in science education: Foundations for the twenty-first century. Science Education, 88(1), 28-54.

Hofstein, A., & Mamlok-Naaman, R. (2007). The laboratory in science education: The state of the art. Chemistry Education Research and Practice, 8, 105-107.

Kapici, H. O., Akcay, H., & de Jong, T. (2019). Using hands-on and virtual laboratories alone or together-which works better for acquiring knowledge and skills? Journal of Science Education and Technology, 28(3), 231-250.

Kapici, H. O., Akcay, H., & de Jong, T. (2020). How do different laboratory environments influence students’ attitudes toward science courses and laboratories? Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 52(4), 534-549.

Kollöffel, B., & de Jong, T. (2013). Conceptual understanding of electrical circuits in secondary vocational engineering education: Combining traditional instruction with inquiry learning in a virtual lab. Journal of Engineering Education, 102(3), 375-393.

Kontra, C., Lyons, D. J., Fischer, S. M., & Beilock, S. L. (2015). Physical experience enhances science learning. Psychological Science, 26(6), 737-749.

Lazonder, A. W., & Harmsen, R. (2016). Meta-analysis of inquiry-based learning: Effects of guidance. Review of Educational Research, 86(3), 681-718.

Lee, A. T., Hairston, R. V., Thames, R., Lawrence, T., & Herron, S. S. (2002). Using a computer simulation to teach science process skills to college biology and elementary majors. Bioscene, 28(4), 35-42.

Minner, D. D., Levy, A. J., & Century, J. (2010). Inquiry-based science instruction—What is it and does it matter? Results from a research synthesis years 1984 to 2002. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 47(4), 474-496.

Mustafa, M. I., & Trudel, L. (2013). The impact of cognitive tools on the development of the inquiry skills of high school students in physics. International Journal of Advanced Computer Science and Applications, 4(9), 124-129.

Mutlu, A., & Acar-Sesen, B. (2016, June). Impact of virtual chemistry laboratory instruction on pre-service science teachers' scientific process skills. Paper presented at the ERPA International Congress on Education, Athens, Greece.

NRC (National Research Council). (2012). A framework K-12 science education: Practices, crosscutting concepts, and core ideas. National Academy Press.

Okey, J. R., Wise, K. C., & Burns, J. C. (1982). Test of Integrated Process Skills (TIPS II). Athens: University of Georgia, Department of Science Education.

Özer, İ. E. (2019). 6.sınıf kuvvet ve hareket ünitesinde gerçekleştirilen Algodoo temelli etkinliklerin öğrencilerin tasarım becerilerine ve akademik başarılarına etkisi. Yüksek Lisans tezi, Aksaray Üniversitesi, Aksaray.

Puntambekar, S., Gnesdilow, D., Tissenbaum, C. D., Narayanan, N. H., Rebello, N. S. (2021). Supporting middle school students’ science talk: A comparison of physical and virtual labs. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 58(3), 392-419.

Pyatt, K., & Sims, R. (2012). Virtual and physical experimentation in inquiry-based science labs: Attitudes, performance and access. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 21(1), 133-147.

Sullivan, S., Gnesdilow, D., Puntambekar, S., & Kim, J.-S. (2017). Middle school students’ learning of mechanics concepts through engagement in different sequences of physical and virtual experiments. International Journal of Science Education, 39(12), 1573-1600.

Tatli, Z., & Ayas, A. (2013). Effect of a virtual chemistry laboratory on students' achievement. Journal of Educational Technology & Society, 16(1), 159-170.

Tüysüz, C. (2010). The effect of the virtual laboratory on students' achievement and attitude in chemistry. International Online Journal of Educational Sciences, 2(1), 37-53.

van Joolingen, W. R., & Zacharia, Z. C. (2009). Developments in inquiry learning. In N. Balacheff, S. Ludvigsen, T. de Jong, A. Lazonder, & S. Barnes (Eds.), Technology-enhanced learning: Principles and products (pp. 21-37). Springer.

Yang, K.-Y., & Heh, J.-S. (2007). The impact of internet virtual physics laboratory instruction on the achievement in physics, science process skills and computer attitudes of 10th-grade students. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 16(5), 451-461.

Zacharia, Z. C. (2015). Examining whether touch sensory feedback is necessary for science learning through experimentation: A literature review of two different lines of research across K-16. Educational Research Review, 16, 116-137.

Zacharia, Z. C., & Constantinou, C. P. (2008). Comparing the influence of physical and virtual manipulatives in the context of the Physics by Inquiry curriculum: The case of undergraduate students’ conceptual understanding of heat and temperature. American Journal of Physics, 76(4), 425-430.

Zacharia, Z. C., & de Jong, T. (2014). The effects on students’ conceptual understanding of electric circuits of introducing virtual manipulatives within a physical manipulatives-oriented curriculum. Cognition and Instruction, 32(2), 101-158.