The effects of remote laboratory implementation on freshman engineering students' experience
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© American Society for Engineering Education, 2018. Today, learning in the engineering laboratory takes place via face-to-face and distance modes, the latter via the internet. Learning of laboratory skills in any mode of laboratory is influenced by the interactions that occur between the students, instructors and the equipment in the laboratory. Recent innovations have focused on developing new remotely controlled laboratories for various disciplines in engineering studies. These laboratories focus purely on technical aspects and may struggle to provide an environment for the development of personal and professional skills that are also a critical part of an engineering student's education. In this research, quantitative and qualitative surveys were conducted at two Australian institutions to measure first-year students' interactions and capturing their experience in these two contrasting laboratory modes. Quantitative survey data showed that students were more satisfied and valued social interactions more in the remotely controlled laboratory than in the face-to-face laboratory. By contrast qualitative responses revealed that their first preference was still face-to-face laboratories because they valued the importance of gaining hands-on experience of the experiment, working in teams and under an instructor's guidance as an engineering student. Students also preferred remote laboratory work to be introduced at a later stage in their engineering studies when they are conceptually more capable and experienced.
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