A Comparative Study of Educational Laboratories from Cost & Learning Effectiveness Perspective
Laboratory education plays a prominent role in the education of engineers and scientists for the practical knowledge and research skill sets they impart. The cost of laboratory set up can vary in magnitudes depending on the level of sophisticated analysis they deliver. Added are the costs of maintenance and facility requirements. Recent advancements in technology enhanced laboratories such as virtual simulation based laboratory and remotely triggerable laboratories, both of which allow e-learning for laboratory education has shown to impact the laboratory education in a significant way. This paper focuses on comparing the tangible and intangible benefits of the various types of laboratories available to students today. Evaluating the differences in infrastructural set up, safety elements, equipment costs, the experimentation time and the effective learning from these laboratories are examined closely. Using pair wise correlation, the advantages and difficulties observed in chemistry based experiments are presented. The compromises, if any, using cost effective laboratories is investigated using N=141 students that underwent undergraduate education. Although most students use physical labs today, the growing trends in online and distance education makes this work significant to teachers and administrators alike. Although not an alternative, the scalability and functional proficiency these virtual laboratories allow bridging the gaps found in traditional laboratories.
KeywordsCost-Benefit Analysis Attributes Virtual laboratory Physical Laboratory Analytical Hierarchy Process Remotely Triggerable Laboratory
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