Introductory physics lab courses have been a staple of the physics curriculum. According to the China Committee of Physics Teaching Steering, the goals of introductory physics labs should be designing experimental investigations, evaluating experimental data, and developing the ability to work in groups.1 The goals of introductory physics laboratories have been published by the American Association of Physics Teachers.2–4 These include designing and evaluating, the art of experimentation, experimental and analytical skills, conceptual learning, understanding the basis of knowledge in physics, and developing collaborative learning skills.5,6

Fulfilling all goals is a worthwhile challenge because such a holistic approach can ensure the complete and efficient development of students’ research skills.7 For example, “the art of experimentation” involves engaging students to design their own experiments; this may be done by choosing the method of measurement, experimental tools, or accuracy of the measurements performed.8,9 However, traditional instruction usually...

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