Ghergulescu, I., Moldovan, A.-N., Muntean C.H., and Muntean, G.-M., 2019. Atomic Structure Interactive Personalised Virtual Lab: Results from an Evaluation Study in Secondary Schools, International Conference on Computer Supported Education.
Virtual labs are increasingly used both as an alternative to physical labs or as a complementary technology enhanced (TEL) solution for STEM education. Virtual labs enable students to conduct experiments in a controlled environment at their own pace. However, despite much research on personalisation and adaptation in the TEL area, most virtual labs that have been developed lack personalisation features. This paper presents results from a study with 78 secondary school students, aimed at evaluating an interactive personalised virtual lab called Atomic Structure. The virtual lab integrates personalisation, interactive experimentation, videos, e-assessment and gamification, to provide an engaging environment for learning chemistry concepts related to atoms, isotopes and molecules. The evaluation study followed a multi-dimensional methodology to assess the effectiveness of the virtual lab in terms of knowledge achievement, learner motivation and usability. The results show that the experimental group that learned with the virtual lab achieved statistically significant higher knowledge than the control group that attended a traditional teacher led session. The experimental group also had higher increase than the control group for different motivation dimensions between the pre and post questionnaires. The usability results showed that most students found the virtual lab useful, easy to use and liked/loved its features such as videos, quizzes and interactive atom builder.