Let's do it: A framework to investigate the affordances of experimental learning environments

Banky, George P., Blicblau, Aaron S., Egodawatta, Prasanna, & Vuthaluru, Hari (2014) Let's do it: A framework to investigate the affordances of experimental learning environments. In 25th Annual Conference of the Australasian Association for Engineering Education : Engineering the Knowledge Economy: Collaboration, Engagement & Employability (AAEE 2014), 8-10 December 2014, Te Papa Tongarewa National Museum of New Zealand, Wellington.

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Experimental learning, traditionally conducted in on-campus laboratory venues, is the cornerstone of science and engineering education. In order to ensure that engineering graduates are exposed to ‘real-world’ situations and attain the necessary professional skill-sets, as mandated by course accreditation bodies such as Engineers Australia, face-to-face laboratory experimentation with real equipment has been an integral component of traditional engineering education. The online delivery of engineering coursework endeavours to mimic this with remote and simulated laboratory experimentation. To satisfy student and accreditation requirements, the common practice has been to offer equivalent remote and/or simulated laboratory experiments in lieu of the ones delivered, face-to face, on campus. The current implementations of both remote and simulated laboratories tend to be specified with a focus on technical characteristics, instead of pedagogical requirements. This work attempts to redress this situation by developing a framework for the investigation of the suitability of different experimental educational environments to deliver quality teaching and learning.


For the tertiary education sector involved with technical or scientific training, a research framework capable of assessing the affordances of laboratory venues is an important aid during the planning, designing and evaluating stages of face-to-face and online (or cyber) environments that facilitate student experimentation. Providing quality experimental learning venues has been identified as one of the distance-education providers’ greatest challenges.


The investigation draws on the expertise of staff at three Australian universities: Swinburne University of Technology (SUT), Curtin University (Curtin) and Queensland University of Technology (QUT). The aim was to analyse video recorded data, in order to identify the occurrences of kikan-shido (a Japanese term meaning ‘between desks instruction’ and over-the-shoulder learning and teaching (OTST/L) events, thereby ascertaining the pedagogical affordances in face-to-face laboratories.


These will be disseminated at a Master Class presentation at this conference.


Kikan-shido occurrences did reflect on the affordances of the venue. Unlike with other data collection methods, video recorded data and its analysis is repeatable. Participant bias is minimised or even eradicated and researcher bias tempered by enabling re-coding by others.


Framework facilitates the identification of experiential face-to-face learning venue affordances. Investigation will continue with on-line venues.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 88017
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Affordances, experimental learning, kikan-shido, over-the-shoulder learning/teaching
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > EDUCATION SYSTEMS (130100) > Higher Education (130103)
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Earth, Environmental & Biological Sciences
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Science & Engineering Faculty
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2014 [Please consult the author]
Deposited On: 06 Oct 2015 00:55
Last Modified: 08 Oct 2015 05:34

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