The Effects of Virtual and Hands-on Laboratory Environments on the Conceptual Knowledge, Inquiry Skills and Attitudes of Middle School Students YILDIZ TECHNICAL UNIVERSITY E-mail:


In the current study, conditions where students worked with only a hands-on laboratory or only a virtual laboratory were compared with conditions in which combinations of the two laboratory environments were used. The main goal of the study was to investigate the effects of different laboratory environment experiences (hands-on only, virtual only, and two different combinations of these laboratories) on middle school students’ conceptual knowledge, inquiry skills, and attitudes toward science courses and laboratories.

A quasi-experimental research design was used in the study. Participants were 143 seventh grade students from a public school. The study consisted of four conditions, corresponding to four different laboratory arrangements: hands-on only, virtual only, and two different combinations of hands-on and virtual laboratory environments. This study employed five different measurement tools to reach its goal, including multiple-choice and open-ended conceptual knowledge tests, an inquiry skills test, an attitude questionnaire, and interviews.

The findings indicate that middle school students’ conceptual knowledge, inquiry skills, and attitudes toward science courses and laboratories improved significantly after working with the laboratories. Furthermore, using different laboratory environments in a combination was seen to yield significantly better results for students’ conceptual knowledge than using only a virtual laboratory. Each laboratory set-up, especially the combined forms, provided important supports for students to deal with their misconceptions. Another finding was that there were no significant differences between the different arrangements of laboratories as far as enhancing students’ inquiry skills. Conditions did not differ in terms of overall attitudes toward science courses and laboratories. The only difference between conditions was found for one sub-dimension of the attitude questionnaire that concerned practical work in science; the hands-on alone condition did not show significant improvement for this sub-dimension, while all other conditions did. Lastly, there was consistency between the results for the attitude questionnaire and the interviews.

Keywords: Hands-on laboratory, virtual laboratory, conceptual knowledge, inquiry skills, attitude

Thesis full reference:

Kapici, H. O. (2021). The effects of virtual and hands-on laboratory environments on the conceptual knowledge, inquiry skills and attitudes of middle school students [Unpublished doctoral dissertation]. Yildiz Technical University.


Hasan Ozgur KAPICI