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Abstract

Real-time microcomputer-based Lab (MBL) experiments allow students to “see” and, at least in kinematics exercises, “feel” the connection between a physical event and its graphical representation. In Brasell's (1987) examination of the sonic ranger MBL, a delay of graphing by only 20 seconds diminished the impact of the MBL exercises. This article describes a study where kinesthetic feedback was completely removed by only giving students visual replications of a motion situation. Graph production was synchronized with motion reanimation so that students still saw a moving object and its kinematics graph simultaneously. Results indicate that this technique did not have a substantial educational advantage over traditional instruction. Since Brasell and others have demonstrated the superiority of microcomputer-based labs, this may indicate that visual juxtaposition is not the relevant variable producing the educational impact of real-time MBL. Immediate student control of the physical event and its graphical representation might be what makes MBL effective and, in the case of kinematics laboratories, kinesthetic feedback could be the most important component of the MBL learning experience. Further studies are needed in order to clarify this point.