, Volume 28, Issue 3, pp 353-363

Laboratory learning environments and practical tasks in senior secondary science classes

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Abstract

Laboratory work is seen as an integral part of most science courses; however, a significant proportion of laboratory activities remain highly prescriptive and fail to challenge many secondary science students. This study of senior high school biology, chemistry and physics laboratory environments drew data from student responses to theScience Laboratory Environment Inventory (SLEI) and a curriculum analysis of the implemented laboratory tasks. The study involved 387 biology, chemistry and physics students in 20 classes in Tasmania, Australia. The curriculum analysis was based on Lunetta and Tamir’sLaboratory Structure and Task Analysis Inventory and theLaboratory Task Analysis. The study found that the SLEI did differentiate between the three subject areas and that theLaboratory Structure and Task Analysis Inventory confirmed the more open-ended nature of the school physics in vestigations evident from students’ responses to the SLEI.