Laboratory classes are regarded as an important learning activity, but they also have shortcomings: laboratory classes are often an inefficient learning activity for students and often do not sufficiently support students in developing research specific cognitive skills. It is hypothesized that some of such skills can be achieved more effectively with digital assignments than with laboratory classes. Therefore, three digital assignments have been designed, developed and evaluated. The assignments have three goals: (1) providing a situation in which students can practice research specific cognitive skills and (2) offering a research method which students can also use in a real laboratory situation and (3) providing the possibility to come across a number of common pitfalls. The assignments are described in detail. Results of a first evaluation of the use of the assignments indicate that the students consider the assignments challenging and valuable. The examination results demonstrate that students are quite capable of making a research design. Although students indicate to have learned a useful research method, students do not apply the method in the laboratory classes.