Can a Combination of Hands-on Experiments and Computers Facilitate Better Learning in Mechanics?

Jonte Bernhard


Microcomputer-Based Laboratories (MBL) have been successfully used to promote conceptual growth in mechanics understanding among preservice teachers and engineering students. In MBL laboratories students do real hands-on experiments where real-time display of the experimental results facilitates conceptual growth. Thus students can immediately compare their predictions with the outcome of an experiment, and students' alternative conceptions can thus successfully be addressed. We also report from a case where only MBL-technology was implemented, but the students were not asked to make predictions. As a result "misconceptions" were not confronted and conceptual change was not achieved among "weak" students.

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