Educational background


Backed by the science of education

LabBuddy has solid roots in educational literature and is based on design requirements stemming from hundreds of peer-reviewed papers and books. Here is a summary of our most important resources.

4C-ID instructional model

The ‘four-component instructional design’ (4C/ID) model by Van Merrienboer et al. addresses complex learning. The four components are ‘learning tasks’, ‘supportive information’, ‘procedural information’ and ‘part-task practice’. A learning task should be designed based on a whole authentic real-life task. The 4C/ID model dictates that the student should be involved in ‘whole-task learning’ from Day One. The difference between first-year and last-year courses is the complexity and the amount of support students get. Another important aspect of the theory is the distinction between supportive information (theory behind whole-task) and procedural information (‘how to’ information relevant for recurrent aspects of tasks).

Our translation to the laboratory: first-year students should not be bored with meaningless ‘cookbook’ experiments, in which all they have to do is blindly follow a recipe to obtain a predetermined result. It is much better to enable them, with adequate guidance, to carry out complete research tasks from the day they enter the laboratory.

LabBuddy enables teachers to create meaningful research experiences throughout the complete curriculum. The tool actively supports teachers in providing students with the right support at the right time.


Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning

Mayer’s cognitive theory of multimedia learning (CTML) makes statements about what are the most effective ways to achieve multimedia learning. It offers design requirements for multimedia learning based on solid evidence from scientific literature.

Our translation to the laboratory: learning in the laboratory can also be understood as a special type of ‘multimedia learning’, for which the same design requirements apply. Nevertheless, most laboratories neglect many of the requirements of CTML.

LabBuddy has been carefully designed to fulfill the requirements of CTML. The tool can be used to bring the laboratory as a whole more in line with CTML, leading to better learning outcomes.

Cognitive load theory

Cognitive load theory (CLT – John Sweller) implies that instructional design should take into account the cognitive architecture of humans. This architecture consists of a working memory with limited capacity and a long term memory. When a task requires the learner to hold too many elements of information simultaneously in working memory, this memory will be ‘overloaded’, leading to less learning.

Our translation to the laboratory: cognitive overload is one of the major problems in the laboratory. Students are constantly bombarded with new information and often have to process this information in very limited time.

Not only was LabBuddy itself designed with CLT in mind, we also discuss with teachers how to bring their laboratory course more in line with CLT.

Constructive Alignment Theory

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The aim of the constructive alignment theory (CAT) by John Biggs is ‘getting most students to use the level of cognitive processes needed to achieve the intended outcomes that the more academic students use spontaneously’. Instead of focusing on what the student is (lazy, looking for shortcuts, etc.), CAT proposes to focus on what the student does. If the learning outcomes, the learning activities and the assessment are aligned, students have no other option but to learn.

Our translation to the laboratory: if teachers observe that students take ‘shortcuts’ (e.g. not preparing for experiments), it is often worth the effort to analyze the current goals, activities and assessment of a laboratory course. If preparation is a required activity (and therefore a goal), but not part of the assessment, it can come as no surprise that most students will not prepare.

LabBuddy provides teachers with new and additional learning activities for the laboratory. This makes it easier for teachers to realize constructive alignment.

ARCS model

The ARCS model of motivational design by John M Keller provides (soft) design requirements for creating motivating learning experiences.

The model highlights four main variables: Attention, Relevance, Confidence and Satisfaction. A learning environment should capture and keep the Attention of the students, sustain awareness that the learning tasks are Relevant with respect to their personal goals, enable them to become and stay Confident of success and promote feelings of Satisfaction for efforts and accomplishments.

Our translation to the laboratory: The ARCS model provides ample concrete strategies to improve laboratory education. For example: offer interesting problems, challenges and activities, highlight why the learning experiences are relevant for them and sustain awareness of relevance, provide feedback and support throughout their work in the laboratory in order to sustain confidence, reward efforts and accomplishments with constructive feedback, assessments and praise in line with explicitly formulated learning outcomes.

LabBuddy follows many recommendations of the ARCS model. LabBuddy will help teachers to challenge students, to give constructive feedback and to prevent failures in the lab that do not contribute to learning.

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