BACKGROUND AND CONTEXT
In order to provide an on-demand, open electrical engineering laboratory, we developed an innovative software-based Virtual Open Laboratory Teaching Assistant (VOLTA). This web based virtual assistant provides laboratory instructions, equipment usage videos, circuit simulation assistance, and hardware implementation diagnostics. VOLTA allows students to perform laboratory experiments anywhere at their convenience. A series of studies was carried out in an experimental section of our traditional entry-level electric circuits laboratory to answer the hypothesis: students taught using VOLTA will learn as much as students who were taught by a human teaching assistant. The experiments were conducted using a pre-test/post-test design, and student performance was assessed using ANOVA on gain scores. Statistical analysis revealed that the student performance increased significantly when VOLTA was integrated into a closed laboratory. We conclude that VOLTA can support students in open and closed laboratories as effectively as a human teaching assistant.