Journal article

Digital laboratory report writing, assessment and feedback in the 21st century for an extended curriculum programme for physics

Publication Details

Author list: Van De Heyde V, Siebrits A

Publisher: Taylor & Francis (Routledge): SSH Titles

Publication year: 2020

Journal: Research in Science and Technological Education

Start page: 1

End page: 32

Total number of pages: 32

ISSN: 0263-5143

eISSN: 1470-1138




This article presents the findings of a pilot study introducing students to emerging educational technologies to enhance their physics laboratory learning experiences. This follows a design-based laboratory approach in which the students move from constructing and developing their laboratory reports in a traditional cookbook pen-and-paper method towards design-based labs using cloud applications.


Google Docs and Sheets, in conjunction with educational add-ons, Doctopus and Goobrics, were introduced to students within an Extended Curriculum Program (ECP) at the University of the Western Cape (UWC), South Africa, so they could write their physics laboratory report, receive feedback, and view the embedded rubric solely online.


= 49 students from a first-year ECP in physics at a South African university voluntarily participated in this study.

Design and methods

Survey data were gathered through two non-standardized questionnaires, using both open-ended and closed questions, via Google Forms. The paper is framed in relation to three main research questions focusing on digital literacy and expectations, learning and engagement, and perceptions. Google Sheets was the database used for the surveys, in conjunction with Goobrics and Doctopus.


The research questions, particularly around learning and engagement, suggest that although challenges remain (as depicted in student perceptions and feedback), there is a clear benefit to introducing digital lab reports, through a scaffolded pathway.


The use of the tools emphasises the idea that cloud technology and educational add-ons are not a magic bullet. We also discuss the role of an Academic Developer as a mediator. Moreover, we argue that educational technologies have a critical role to play in fostering and promoting the acquisition of scientific Discourse, but it must never be forgotten that the tools are not an end in themselves, but a means to an end – promoting student learning and preparing the next generation of scientists and scholars, and that serious challenges remain.


Currently no objects available


Applied Physics, cloud

Last updated on 2021-26-02 at 13:56