Design of virtual experiment environments

Sjors Verstege

Research output: Thesisinternal PhD, WU


Many of the learning outcomes that are attributed to laboratory classes can be achieved outside the laboratory, for example by student preparation. The aim of the research described in this thesis was to design virtual experiment environments (VEEs) that help students prepare for laboratory classes. Given the limited information on the design of such learning materials, the central question of this dissertation was: How to design a VEE that helps students to prepare for laboratory classes? To answer this question, I adopted the educational design research (EDR) approach. This approach is committed to develop theoretical understanding and practical solutions simultaneously, and involves three phases: i) analysis & exploration, ii) design & construction, and iii) summative evaluation. In the analysis & exploration phase, the complex educational problem and its context were defined, based on which the potential of VEEs as preparation tools for laboratory classes was established. In the design & construction phase, solutions for the complex educational problem were explored, which finally resulted in the design of four VEEs. Based on recurrent testing and formative evaluations of the VEEs, a blueprint was established that consists of three design requirements, fourteen design principles, and a design architecture. Such information in the context of VEEs is new to literature, and has the potential to help teachers and instructional designers to design high quality VEEs. In the summative evaluation phase, the designed VEEs were implemented and evaluated in the learning situation. Based on the results of the summative evaluation, the blueprint that resulted from the design & construction phase was evaluated and fine-tuned. In conclusion, the complex educational problem was solved by the practical solutions: the VEEs. The theoretical understanding acquired in the EDR process, which was captured in the blueprint, which is the answer to the central research question.

Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Wageningen University
  • Vincken, Jean-Paul, Promotor
  • Diederen, Julia, Co-promotor
Award date3 Nov 2021
Place of PublicationWageningen
Print ISBNs9789463958219
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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