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Reflections from the virtual reality assisted laboratory applications in the education of pre-service science teachers
Educational technologies positively affect the retention of the knowledge, owing to stimulation of multiple sensory organs. Therefore, innovative teaching technologies need to be integrated into educational environments. However, considering today's technological possibilities, it seems that studies on the usage of innovative technologies in education such as wearable technologies, virtual reality and augmented reality are not enough. Especially, there is a need for investigations using innovative technologies on pre-service teachers who will be influential on students' learning. Inn this study,, it is aimed too share the experiences of researcher about reflections of students' situations and the experiences gained during the virtual reality supported applications within the Science Teaching and Laboratory Practices-I course. The inferences that will be mentioned in the study are thought to be useful to educators who would conduct experimental research using innovative technologies. "Informal Observation Method" was used as a data collection tool in this study which is based on qualitative research approach. The study was conducted with 54 (30 in control, 24 in experiment group) 3rd-grade pre-service science teachers at the faculty of education of a state university in the 2017-2018 academic year. 6 activities were carried out in the pilot and main implementations that based on 3E Learning Cycle Model, and the activities were associated with the objectives of physics, chemistry and biology domain from Science Curriculum at the 6-7-8. class level. Opinions of experts were received about activities before implementations. After adjusting activities according to the feedbacks, pilot implementations were conducted with the 4th-grade pre-service science teachers for each activity. After the final revision, the main implementations were applied to the primary study group. The researcher noted his observations, thoughts, and impressions from the activities during the 6-week course by keeping an unstructured research log. To check the consistency of the activities and the observations of the researcher, experts performed independent observations in both groups during the implementation process. Afterwards,researcher'ssnotesswereeevaluateddvia descriptive analysis. In order to ensure encoder reliability, notes were independently analyzed by the researchers. After consensus of the researchers, codes are categorized under "Positive" and "Negative" themes. The codes under the "Positive" theme were "Attitude", "Concept Learning", and "Learning Environment". Observations which indicate a positive/negative attitude of students about virtual reality supported laboratory activities were presented with the "Attitude" code. For example, "For the first time, a reluctant student expressed her likeness for using virtual reality headset.". Under the "Concept Learning" coding; observations indicated that virtual reality supported laboratory applications are beneficial to concept learning of students, were presented. For instance, "The students were able to correctly name five of six preparations in practice, which helped me to see how quickly virtual reality implementations can show their effectiveness compared to the control group.". Under the "Learning Environment" coding; the observations that the virtual reality applications enrich the learning environment, and further concretisation of abstract concepts, were presented. To exemplify, "In the experimental group, I observed a more pronounced competitive environment. One group became celestial bodies in the solar system just by holding papers that names are written on it. Richer and different models are coming out.". The codes under the "Negative" theme were "Technological Readiness", "Difficulties" and "Time Limit". With the "Technological Readiness" coding; the inadequacy of the students at preparing their devices by installing necessary applications and using the virtual reality material, were presented. For example, "The students in the experimental group are still having trouble setting up the phone and using the application. The first 45 minutes of the course spent to explaining the process and adjusting the devices." Under the "Difficulties" coding; the mishaps that the researcher confronts when using virtual reality materials, were presented. For instance, "The section I pointed out on Expeditions app sometimes seems to be wrong, there is a problem with the material or connection, but I cannot exactly pinpoint the cause. In an improvised way, I managed the situation with questions; 'Which planet would be the next? What can you say about that planet?". Under the "Insufficient Time" coding; observations indicating that the time consumption of the virtual reality assisted laboratory activities were more than expected, were presented...