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Abstract

We examined the preference of undergraduate students for a live or a virtual rat when learning about concepts of operant conditioning. Students were provided with the opportunity to directly compare a virtual and a live rat in a supplemental exercise for Learning courses. We argue that the design of teaching exercises should involve a systematic examination of student preferences between different available techniques. In general, students preferred a live rat over a virtual rat when learning concepts in operant conditioning, specifically a fixed-ratio schedule of reinforcement. Students also listed advantages and disadvantages of using a virtual rat versus a live rat. These aspects evaluated by students are compared and contrasted with those provided by experts who have reviewed these learning exercises.

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