Roll - Productive Failure in a Chemistry Virtual Lab

From LearnLab
Revision as of 17:44, 1 February 2010 by Yaron (talk | contribs)
Jump to: navigation, search

Productive Failure in a Chemistry Virtual Laboratory (Roll)

Summary Table

PIs Ido Roll, David Yaron
Other Contributers Michael Karabinos (Instructional Designer, Carnegie Mellon), Sophia Nussbaum (Course Instructor and Instructional Designer, University of British Columbia)
Study Start Date March, 2010
Study End Date March, 2011
LearnLab Site University of British Columbia, Freshman Laboratory Course
LearnLab Course Chemistry
Number of Students 1100
Total Participant Hours 3300
DataShop Log files of student interactions with virtual lab and other instructional materials.


This study is occuring in a set of online materials that students complete in preparation for a physical laboratory experience involving the design of a buffer solution. At the beginning of the online activities, students complete a set of activities in the ChemCollective virtual laboratory. In past years, these virtual lab activities have following a direct instruction approach, in which students add acid to a buffered versus unbuffered solution and compare the effects. This study adds an additional condition in which students are asked to create their own buffer solution, with only minimal guidance. This is a complex task which is the topic of the following instruction. Students are not expected to succeeed at the task in this initial exploratory phase, but the hypothesis is that engaging with the task at the beginning will better prepare them for the formal knowledge which is to follow.

Background & Significance


Research questions

Will engagement with an initial exploratory phase of instruction promote student learning, even though the students are likely to fail at meeting the goals of the exploratory activity (designing a buffer solution with a specified pH and buffer capacacity)?

Independent Variables

Dependent Variables




Further Information

This study is currently under design and will be carried out at UBC following the break the university is taking for the winter olympics (data collection begins on March 1, 2010).

Connections to Other Studies

Annotated Bibliography


Future Plans