It is an undeniable fact that experimental studies are extremely important. Technology, artificial intelligence, and their applications that advance every day increase the need for experimental studies and data. However, measurement and reporting are as important. Quality education, especially in engineering and related fields, takes both experimental studies and measurement and reporting. As remote education has grown to be an indispensable part of learning programs, remote labs have also become an essential part of those programs. Consequently, the benefits of reporting and assessment have become clearer. Experimental studies and their reporting loom large, especially, in engineering education and applications. It is a fact that studies that involve experimental procedures with trial and error and repetition present a better learning experience for engineering students and professionals in the field.
Why is there a need for reporting in experimental studies?
Laboratory studies bring technological innovation through experimental studies. Measurements and reports in experimental studies help researchers and students to determine and develop various strategies and shed light on many questions that they might have. Measurement and reporting processes also facilitate the early recognition of mistakes, which is vital in many cases. For an effective report to emerge, experimental studies first need to have a clear introduction that describes the experiment and it purposes well. The experiment must be conducted carefully in accordance with the purposes and predefined conditions. After it has been carefully conducted, the people who conduct the experiment must prepare a summary part with results and their analysis. In order to grasp the importance of measurement and reporting in experimental studies, one can examine the questions asked primarily during the measurement and reporting processes. Experimental studies carried out in remote laboratories and the reporting of them support the comprehension and addressing of problems by revealing their root causes and possible solutions. Evaluating the reporting after an experiment can make experimental studies much more effective. Thus, measurement and reporting constantly encourage innovation.
Is there an easy way to assess experimental studies for both researchers, students and supervisors, instructors?
Researchers or students always share their lab reports with their supervisors. Supervisors, namely Lab Assistants or Primary Investigators, should spend some time to read and assess these reports. If the lab is for teaching purposes, the supervisor should also track the progress of the students and cross-check the originality of the report in addition to the accuracy of the results because students tend to ignore the importance of reporting and consequently become likely to cheat. The learning management systems (LMS) are very useful in handling this issue in reporting. Modern LMS’s have various tools that can assign tasks and report the progress of individuals afterward. They also have some sort of automated verification tools to check the accuracy and originality of the answers. It is possible to integrate remote engineering laboratories with the LMS infrastructures of education institutions. As the lab studies and topics are predefined, it is fairly simple to create short surveys like quizzes after each lab assignment. Moreover, the software infrastructure can also report if the experiment milestones are achieved via intuitively placed check-point algorithms. Such tools make the reporting processes easier for both students and instructors.
Figure 1- Sample Online Education Assessment Contents with Chapter ending Quiz and Checkpoint tracking
Figure 2 - Grading out of various Assessments
What do remote laboratories offer in terms of reporting and assessment?
While remote laboratories allow academics and researchers to perform various experimental and laboratory procedures over the Internet without time and space limitations, they also present new opportunities for researchers and students to benefit from the reporting tools offered by the Internet. In traditional laboratories, experimental studies emerge as a result of physical actions. In remote laboratories, on the other hand, researchers realize the processes and interactions that take place in traditional laboratories remotely. Remote laboratory equipment, a new layer between users and laboratories, contributes to researchers’ sensory transmission of information and actions. Researchers can perform certain basic functions thanks to the remote infrastructure provided by remote laboratories. These basic operations include the user interface that supports the monitoring and operation of the test apparatus used during the experimental work. As remote labs have identical equipment and, therefore, enable repeatability , reports and the outcomes in it become also more convincing and concrete.
Experimental studies are at the heart of science. However, measurement and reporting are as important as experimental studies because, without reporting, experimental studies and their results would be meaningless data. Remotely accessible labs make it possible for everyone to conduct experiments as well as prepare reports through various tools with the help of the Internet without requiring any physical presence. Remote laboratories facilitate the process for measuring and reporting, as it does for experimenting itself. With the help of these remote tools, researchers and students are able to conduct quality experiments and prepare effective reports while instructors and supervisors can easily and accurately assess them, which will pave the way towards better experiments and reports, and therefore advances in science and education in the related fields.