Elements of a realistic virtual laboratory experience in materials science: Development and evaluation

Javad Hashemi, Katherine Austin Austin-Stalcup, Edward E. Anderson, Naveen Chandrashekar, Adam Majkowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


The development and evaluation of a realistic virtual materials science laboratory experiment on metallography is reported in this paper. This virtual laboratory is highly interactive and has been designed considering a number of learning styles. All standard laboratory functions such as stating the objectives of the experiment, background, procedure, analysis, and establishing conclusions are performed in a virtual environment. A novel 'decision tree' structure is devised that allows the user to make decisions from an available menu of options (both correct and incorrect options are given) and view the results of the decision. The students can view the outcome of an incorrect decision using the decision tree concept. The objectives of this tool are to 1) emphasize and verify the learning objectives, 2) prepare the students for an actual in-class laboratory experiment, and 3) serve as a replacement experience for universities and colleges that do not have a materials science laboratory. Preliminary evaluation of the software by students has shown that the software can be effective in achieving the learning objectives and in serving as a preparation tool for laboratory students. An interactive version of this paper is available on the IJEE website (www.ijee.dit.ie).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)534-545
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Engineering Education
Issue number3 PART 1
StatePublished - 2005


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