Wednesday, November 21, 2007
AP Labs Under Fire
According to THIS article The College Board has singled out an AP Curriculum created by Aventa Learning because many of the labs are done virtually instead of in person.
At first thought I believe that labs should be done in person because having the hands on experience is incredibly valuable. Technology is great, but it can't take the place of everything, can it?
The issue here, in my mind is: can virtual labs and field trips be as effective as hands on experiences of the same thing?
In a recent study Nickerson et al (2007) explains that students learn equally well whether they are actually there or visiting via an electronic learning laboratory.
This study shows then that technology and societal aspects of learning go hand in hand. Students still learn when technology is used in conjunction with learning through the community. Therefore, the “community” can be expended beyond what a school bus is able to take students to. As with Dierking’s 1997 study, field trips could be more beneficial if these field trips can be done electronically. It could expose the students to new groups of people and ideas beyond just the local community.
Many schools may not have the resources to complete complicated AP designed labs, so perhaps using technology is another effective way to expose students to these types of experiments that may not ever have the opportunity.
The College Board, understandable, wants to maintain its high standards. However, they should also be concerned with making AP classes and information available to as many people as possible.
Dierking, AuthorL.D., & Falk, J.H. (1997). School field trips: Assessing their long-term impact. Curator. 40, 211-218.
Nickerson, J, Corter, J, & Esche, S (2007). A Model for Evaluating the Effectiveness of Remote Engineering Laboratories and Simulations in Education. Computers & Education. 49, 708-725.