Mahya Babaie


The purpose of this quantitative, descriptive, single group, pretest posttest design study was to explore the influence of a Virtual Science Laboratory (VSL) on middle school students’ cognitive knowledge, skill development, and attitudes toward science. This study involved 2 eighth grade Physical Science classrooms at a large urban charter middle school located in Southern California. The Buoyancy and Density Test (BDT), a computer generated test, assessed students’ scientific knowledge in areas of Buoyancy and Density. The Attitude Toward Science Inventory (ATSI), a multidimensional survey assessment, measured students’ attitudes toward science in the areas of value of science in society, motivation in science, enjoyment of science, self-concept regarding science, and anxiety toward science. A Virtual Laboratory Packet (VLP), generated by the researcher, captured students’ mathematical and scientific skills. Data collection was conducted over a period of five days. BDT and ATSI assessments were administered twice: once before the Buoyancy and Density VSL to serve as baseline data (pre) and also after the VSL (post). The findings of this study revealed that students’ cognitive knowledge and attitudes toward science were positively changed as expected, however, the results from paired sample t-tests found no statistical significance. Analyses indicated that VSLs were effective in supporting students’ scientific knowledge and attitude toward science. The attitudes most changed were value of science in society and enjoyment of science with mean differences of 1.71 and 0.88, respectively. Researchers and educational practitioners are urged to further examine VSLs, covering a variety of topics, with more middle school students to assess their learning outcomes. Additionally, it is recommended that publishers in charge of designing the VSLs communicate with science instructors and research practitioners to further improve the design and analytic components of these virtual learning environments. The results of this study contribute to the existing body of knowledge in an effort to raise awareness about the inclusion of VSLs in secondary science classrooms. With the advancement of technological tools in secondary science classrooms, instructional practices should consider including VSLs especially if providing real science laboratories is a challenge.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (EdD) -- Learning technologies; Physical sciences -- Study and teaching (Elementary) -- Simulation methods

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Davis, Kay D.;