Research in Science Education

, Volume 43, Issue 3, pp 1029-1050

First online:

The Nature of Laboratory Learning Experiences in Secondary Science Online

  • Kent J. CrippenAffiliated withUniversity of Florida Email author 
  • , Leanna M. ArchambaultAffiliated withArizona State University
  • , Cindy L. KernAffiliated withUniversity of Nevada Las Vegas

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Teaching science to secondary students in an online environment is a growing international trend. Despite this trend, reports of empirical studies of this phenomenon are noticeably missing. With a survey concerning the nature of laboratory activities, this study describes the perspective of 35-secondary teachers from 15-different U.S. states who are teaching science online. The type and frequency of reported laboratory activities are consistent with the tradition of face-to-face instruction, using hands-on and simulated experiments. While provided examples were student-centered and required the collection of data, they failed to illustrate key components of the nature of science. The features of student-teacher interactions, student engagement, and nonverbal communications were found to be lacking and likely constitute barriers to the enactment of inquiry. These results serve as a call for research and development focused on using existing communication tools to better align with the activity of science such that the nature of science is more clearly addressed, the work of students becomes more collaborative and authentic, and the formative elements of a scientific inquiry are more accessible to all participants.


Online science Learning with laboratory Virtual schooling