Collaboration in remote access laboratories

PhD Thesis

Habibi, Ali Mohamed B.. 2020. Collaboration in remote access laboratories. PhD Thesis Doctor of Philosophy. University of Southern Queensland.

Collaboration in remote access laboratories

TypePhD Thesis
AuthorHabibi, Ali Mohamed B.
SupervisorO'Neill, Shirley
Dashwood, Ann
Getenet, Seyum
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
Qualification NameDoctor of Philosophy
Number of Pages408
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Collaboration in Remote Access Laboratories (RALs) is becoming increasingly important in both engineering and science education institutions, and with RALs service providers as an enabler to improving accessibility, reducing costs, and improving time-efficiency and student support.

Yet research on the use of collaboration in RALs, in general, is limited. There is a lack of exploratory and empirical studies that provide an in-depth and holistic investigation of the design process and factors that influence the adoption of collaboration in RALs. Therefore, this study makes a significant and original contribution to current theoretical and practice knowledge with regards to pedagogical change in engineering education through the use of technology and remote access laboratories, where social constructivist practices are applied, in particular, engineering students undertaking LAB work in a different mode or approach to the traditional learning environment. This research employed a case study qualitative method with triangulation of data. Data were collected through observation of students working collaboratively in the trial of collaborative learning in RALs using the Voltage Divider Experiment task, and follow-up, in-depth interviews, with inductive analysis and activity recoding. The research explored Kagan’s PIES that relate to outcomes of the collaborative approach, Dillenbourg’s four elements of collaborative learning and Doolittle’s eleven principles of learning experience design as the theoretical bases of the collaborative pedagogical design of the RALs learning experience. While confirming their continued relevance to this context for learning three new principles were shown to be essential to facilitate and enhance contemporary learning in RALs. These included the need to build in the leadership of the collaborative learning experience, ensure task authenticity and participants acquisition of the soft skills, including interpersonal skills and teamwork, and their relevance to the workplace (employability). Additionally, this research highlighted how learning in RALs facilitates formative assessment that feeds forward to better support students’ learning where they need to communicate with each other during the LAB work collaborative learning experiences, thus drawing attention to the need for careful academic planning.

The study also addressed the limitations of collaboration in RALs. It investigated the extent to which engineering students accepted collaborative learning in RALs as a workable alternative to traditional in-LAB work. It identified the key factors that are likely to influence the adoption of such pedagogical change, including factors to be considered when planning to adopt collaboration in RALs. This resulted in the development of an instructional framework for collaboration in RALs. It was concluded that collaboration in RALs has the potential to improve LAB learning through the availability of remote access, the facilitation of a sense of reality (comparable to traditional hands-on experience) and the opportunity for group work, and the need for skills that more closely related to those needed in students’ future workplaces.

Keywordscollaborative learning, dialogic learning, Doolittle principles, formative assessment, remote access laboratories, task-based learning
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020390405. Educational technology and computing
390113. Science, technology and engineering curriculum and pedagogy
Byline AffiliationsSchool of Education
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