The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type




Degree Name

Special Studies: M.S.




College of Science and Engineering

First Advisor

Felicia Leammukda

Second Advisor

Matthew Davis

Third Advisor

Melissa Hanszek-Brill

Fourth Advisor

Melanie Guentzel

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Keywords and Subject Headings

in-person, hands-on, virtual, lab, pandemic


This research evaluated high school chemistry students’ science lab quiz scores after they performed multiple chemical reactions labs in two different formats: virtual and hands-on approaches. Virtual labs were performed by the researcher using a video format where the lab was set up and performed with no student contribution, and hands-on labs were performed by students in their lab groups with little teacher contribution. Minor teacher-led safety measures were taken to ensure student safety. Students who performed a virtual lab for the first lab were required to perform the second lab using the hands-on lab to accurately evaluate data when students perform each type of lab format. During each lab, students identified observations and results of the lab and participants were assessed using a lab quiz within a week and at the end of the trimester to identify short-term and long-term retention of material.

Independent T-Tests indicated 95% confidence that the variance (means) between lab formats were not equal. Test of Between-Subjects (ANOVA) tested differences in gender, race, hour of class, and teacher of the class indicated a 95% confidence that the mean scores were equal across groups when tested with both lab formats. Regarding short term retention, mixed data was observed. The hands-on lab mean score was 9.7% higher than the virtual lab in the first chemical reaction lab and the virtual mean score was 1.3% higher than the hands-on lab in the second chemical reaction lab. Long-term retention appeared to drop most significantly in the hands-on lab groups with a mean decrease of 21.25% compared to a decrease of 14.22% for students who performed virtual labs. Qualitative data suggests that students prefer hands-on labs and feel that they learn more with a deeper understanding; however, the results do not clearly show the validity from the students surveys and in fact show the opposite regarding long-term retention attrition rates. The results of the study provide arguments for both formats of lab and ultimately requires more data, more labs, and more participants to confidently answer the research questions.


First, I wish to express my appreciation for my wife Katelyn who stayed home with our three children, Olivia, Cooper, and Cohen the past year. I am thankful for her constant encouragement and late Monday nights taking care of the kids while I had online classes. I would also like to express my deep gratitude to Dr. Felicia Leammukda for the countless recommendations and hours spent in Zoom meetings guiding me through the process and giving me advice. Dr. Leammukda has been helpful in a way many professors should model themselves after. I am also thankful for Dr. Melanie Guentzel, Dr. Matt Davis and Dr. Melissa Hanzek-Brill who gave constructive feedback regarding my research and how to improve the data. I appreciate Edbert and the team at the Statistics department for helping me with my research data.



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