Breaking Barriers: Overcoming Anxieties in Practical Science

  • Sam J. Nolan
  • Simon Rees
  • Carole Rushall


Students can find the thought of entering a university laboratory intimidating. Here, we explore the use of digital technology to lessen such fears and offer three case studies to illustrate their impact: (a) a virtual laboratory, (b) augmented reality and (c) a virtual field trip. Referring to Laurillard’s conversational framework, we describe how each can enhance student engagement and learning.


Augmented Reality International Student Laboratory Session Open Educational Resource Virtual Field 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors thank the Centre for Academic and Researcher Development (CARD) at Durham University for a series of funding grants through the Enhancing the Student Learning Experience Award Scheme. In addition, we have had funding through the HE STEM scheme, and workshop funding from the HEA, which have helped to develop a national network of interest in virtual experiments. We are indebted to our summer students, Andres del Castillo Dubuc, Katherine Hurst, Hannah Wynn and Takudzwa Kawanzaruwa, without whose efforts these projects would have not been possible.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sam J. Nolan
    • 1
  • Simon Rees
    • 2
  • Carole Rushall
    • 2
  1. 1.Centre for AcademicResearcher and Organisation DevelopmentDurhamUK
  2. 2.Foundation CentreUniversity of DurhamDurhamUK

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