What Makes a Good Laboratory Learning Exercise? Student Feedback from the ACELL Project

  • A. V. George
  • J. R. Read
  • S. C. Barrie
  • R. B. Bucat
  • M. A. Buntine
  • G. T. Crisp
  • I. M. Jamie
  • S. H. Kable
Chapter

Abstract

Over the last 7 years, a group of Australian universities have been collaboratively running a chemistry education project, now called ACELL (Advancing Chemistry by Enhanced Learning in the Laboratory). One of the key aims of ACELL is to facilitate the development and evaluation of educationally sound chemistry laboratory exercises with the goal of improving the quality of students’ learning in the laboratory in Australia, New Zealand, and throughout the world. As part of this project, ACELL has developed an instrument for investigating students’ perceptions of their laboratory learning experiences. To date, ACELL had collected data on 19 experiments from 972 students across 7 universities in Australia and New Zealand using this instrument, and this data collection is ongoing. As a consequence, ACELL is in an unusually good position to identify and discuss both procedural and cognitive factors that influence students’ evaluation of their laboratory learning experiences, such as assessment, the quality of notes, interest, and the inclusion of opportunities for independent learning. Our results are both surprising and encouraging, and indicate that students can be highly cognitively engaged, even with traditionally “boring” content, provided a suitable learning environment is established. This paper will describe the research approach undertaken, discuss the range of factors which appear to significantly influence students’ learning experiences, and consider the implications for the design of educationally sound chemistry laboratory exercises.

References

  1. 1.
    Barrie SC, Buntine MA, Jamie IM, Kable SH (2001a) APCELL: Developing better ways of teaching in the laboratory. Paper presented at the Proceedings of Research and Development into University Science Teaching and Learning Workshop, Sydney, NSWGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Bucat RB (2004) Pedagogical content knowledge as a way forward: Applied research in chemistry education. Chem Educ Res Prac, 5:215–228Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Marais P, Jordaan F (2000) Are we taking symbolic language for granted? J Chem Educ, 77:1355–1357CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Royal Australian Chemical Institute. (2005). The Future of Chemistry Study: Supply and Demand of Chemists. http://www.raci.org.au/future/futureofchemistry.html. Accessed 13 May 2008
  5. 5.
    Hawkes SJ (2004) Chemistry is not a laboratory science. J Chem Educ, 81(9):1257CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Baker AT (2005) Chemistry: Laboratory science or not? Chem Aust, 72(3):12–13Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Morton SD (2005) Response to ‘Chemistry is Not a Laboratory Science’. J Chem Educ, 82(7): 997CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Sacks LJ (2005) Reaction to ‘Chemistry is Not a Laboratory Science’. J Chem Educ, 82(7):997–998CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Stephens CE (2005) Taking Issue with ‘Chemistry is Not a Laboratory Science’. J Chem Educ, 82(7):998CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Hegarty-Hazel E (Ed.) (1990) The Student Laboratory and the Science Curriculum. London: RoutledgeGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Moore JW (2006) Let’s go for an A in lab. J Chem Educ, 83(4):519CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Bennett SW, O’Neale K (1998) Skills development and practical work in chemistry. U Chem Educ, 2(2):58–62Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Boud D, Dunn J, Hegarty-Hazel E (1986) Teaching in Laboratories. Guildford, Surrey: SRHE and NFER-NelsonGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Domin DS (1999) A review of laboratory instructional styles. J Chem Educ, 76:543–547CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Shibley Jr I A, Zimmaro DM (2002) The influence of collaborative learning on student attitudes and performance in an introductory chemistry laboratory. J Chem Educ, 79(6):745–748CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Psillos D, Niedderer H (Eds.) (2002) Teaching and Learning in the Science Laboratory. Dordrecht: KluwerGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Green WJ, Elliott C, Cummins RH (2004) ‘Prompted’ inquiry-based learning in the introductory chemistry laboratory. J Chem Educ, 81(2):239–241CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Kirschner PA, Sweller J, Clark RE (2006) Why minimal guidance during instruction does not work: An analysis of the failure of constructivist, discovery, problem-based, experiential and inquiry-based teaching. Educ Psychol, 41:75–86CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Mayer RE (2004) Should there be a three-strikes rule against pure discovery learning? The case for guided methods of instruction. Am Psych, 59:14–19CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Skinner EA, Belmont MJ (1993) Motivation in the classroom - Reciprocal effects of teacher-behaviour and student engagement across the school year. J Educ Psychol, 85:571–581CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Byers W (2002) Promoting active learning through small group laboratory classes. U Chem Educ, 6:28–34Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Boulton-Lewis G. (1994) Tertiary students’ knowledge of their own learning and a SOLO taxonomy High Educ, 28:387–402Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Boud D, Cohen R, Walker D (1993) Understanding learning from experience. In Using Experience for Learning; Boud, D. Cohen, R. and Walker D. (Eds.); Society for Research into Higher Education and The Open University Press: Buckingham, pp 1–17Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Johnstone AH, Al-Shuaili A (2001) Learning in the laboratory; some thoughts from the literature. U Chem Educ, 5(2):42–51Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Vianna JF, Sleet RJ, Johnstone AH (1999) Designing an undergraduate laboratory course in general chemistry. Quimica Nova, 22(2):280–288CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    George B, Wystrach VP, Perkins R (1985) Why do students choose chemistry as a major? J Chem Educ, 62(6):501–503CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Paris SG, Turner JC (1994) Situated motivation. In P. R. Pintrich, D. R. Brown and C. E. Weinstein (Eds.), Student Motivation, Cognition and learning (pp. 213–237). Hillsdale, NJ: ErlbaumGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Coe EM, McDougall AO, McKeown NB (1999) Is peer-assisted learning of benefit to undergraduate chemists? U Chem Educ, 3:72–75Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Deters KM (2005) Student opinions regarding inquiry-based labs. J Chem Educ, 82, 1178–1180CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Teixeira-Dias JJ, de Jesus HP, de Souza FN, Watts M (2005) Teaching for quality learning in chemistry. Int J Sci Educ, 27:1123–1137CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Gibbs G, Gregory R, Moore I (1997) Teaching More Students 7: Labs and Practicals with More Students and Fewer Resources. Oxford, UK: Oxford Centre for Staff DevelopmentGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Bowen CW (1999) Development and score validation of a Chemistry Laboratory Anxiety Instrument (CLAI) for college chemistry students. Educ Psychol Meas, 59:171–185Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Johnstone AH (1984) New stars for the teacher to steer by? J Chem Educ, 61:847–849CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Johnstone AH (1997a) ⋯And some fell on good ground. U Chem Educ, 1(1):8–13Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Johnstone AH (1997b) Chemistry teaching - science or alchemy? 1996 Brasted lecture. J Chem Educ, 74:262–268CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Johnstone AH, Sleet RJ, Vianna JF (1994) An information-processing model of learning - Its application to an undergraduate laboratory course in chemistry. Stud High Educ, 19(1):77–87CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Johnstone AH, Wham AJB (1982) Demands of practical work. Educ Chem, 19(3):71–73Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Chandler P, Sweller J (1991) Cognitive load theory and the format of instruction. Cogn Instr, 8: 293–332CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Kirschner PA (2002) Cognitive load theory: Implications of cognitive load theory on the design of learning. Learn Instr, 12:1–10CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Paas F, Van Merrienboer J (1994) Instructional control of cognitive load in the training of complex cognitive tasks. Edu Psych Rev, 6:351–371CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Sweller J (1994) Cognitive load theory, learning difficulty, and instructional design. Learn Inst, 4:295–312CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
    Wickman PO (2004) The practical epistemologies of the classroom: A study of laboratory work. Sci Educ, 88:325–344CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. 43.
    Lock R (1988) A history of practical work in school science and its assessment, 1860–1986. School Sci Rev, 70(250):115–119Google Scholar
  44. 44.
    Hodson D (1993) Re-thinking old ways: Towards a more critical approach to practical work in school science. Stud Sci Educ, 22:85–142CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. 45.
    Marthie AM, Meester M, Maskill R (1993) The practical side of chemistry. Educ Chem, 30(6):156–158Google Scholar
  46. 46.
    Bennett SW (2000) University practical work: Why do we do it? Educ Chem, 37(2):49–50Google Scholar
  47. 47.
    Rigano D, Ritchie S (1994) Students’ thinking in a chemistry laboratory. Res Sci Educ, 24:270–279CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. 48.
    Markow PG, Lonning RA (1998) Usefulness of concept maps in college chemistry laboratories: Students’ perceptions and effects on achievement. J Res Sci Teach, 35:1015–1029CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. 49.
    Hofstein A, Navon O, Kipnis M, Mamlok-Naaman R (2005) Developing students’ ability to ask more and better questions resulting from inquiry-type chemistry laboratories. J Res Sci Teach, 42:791–806CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. 50.
    Hofstein A, Lunetta VN (1982) The role of the laboratory in science teaching: Neglected aspects of research. Rev Educ Res, 52:201–217Google Scholar
  51. 51.
    Hart C, Mulhall P, Berry A, Loughran J, Gunstone R (2000) What is the purpose of this experiment? Or can students learn something from doing experiments? J Res Sci Teach, 37:655–675CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. 52.
    Hofstein A, Lunetta VN (2004) The laboratory in science education: Foundations for the twenty-first century. Sci Educ, 88:28–54CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. 53.
    Nakhleh MB, Polles J, Malina E (2002) Learning chemistry in a laboratory environment. In J. K. Gilbert, O. De Jong, R. Justi, D. F. Treagust and J. H. Van Driel (Eds.), Chemical Education: Towards Research-based Practice (pp. 69–94). Dordrecht: KluwerGoogle Scholar
  54. 54.
    Tobin KG (1990) Research on science laboratory activities. In pursuit of better questions and answers to improve learning. School Sci Math, 90:403–418CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. 55.
    Buntine MA, Read JR, Barrie SC, Bucat RB, Crisp GC, George AV, Jamie IM, Kable SK (2007) Advancing Chemistry by Enhancing Learning in the laboratory (ACELL): a model for providing professional and personal development and facilitating improved student laboratory learning outcomes. Chem Educ Res Prac, 8(2):232–254CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. 56.
    Jamie IM, Read JR, Barrie SC, Bucat RB, Buntine MA, Crisp GT, George AV, Kable SK (2006) From APCELL to ACELL - Expanding a multi-institution project for laboratory-based teaching and learning. Aust J Educ Chem 67:7–13Google Scholar
  57. 57.
    Read JR (2006) The Australian Chemistry Enhanced laboratory Learning project. Chem Aust, 73(1):3–5Google Scholar
  58. 58.
    Read JR, Barrie SC, Bucat RB, Buntine MA, Crisp GT, George AV, Jamie IM, Kable SH, (2006a) Achievements of an ACELL workshop. Chem Aust, 73(9):17–20Google Scholar
  59. 59.
    Read JR, Buntine MA, Crisp GT, Barrie SC, George AV, Kable SH, Bucat RB, Jamie IM (2006b). The ACELL project: Student participation, professional development, and improving laboratory learning. Paper presented at the Symposium Proceedings: Science Assessment, Sydney, NSWGoogle Scholar
  60. 60.
    Barrie SC, Buntine MA, Jamie IM, Kable SH (2001b) APCELL: The Australian Physical Chemistry Enhanced laboratory Learning project. Aust J Educ Chem, 57:6–12Google Scholar
  61. 61.
    Barrie SC, Buntine MA, Jamie IM, Kable SH (2001c) Physical chemistry in the lab. Chem Aust, 68(2):37–38Google Scholar
  62. 62.
    ACELL (2008) http://acell.chem.usyd.edu.au. Accessed 13 May 2008
  63. 63.
    Buntine MA, Read JR (2007) Guide to Content Analysis http://acell.chem.usyd.edu.au/Guide-to-Content-Analysis.cfm. Accessed 13 May 2008
  64. 64.
    Miles MB, Huberman AM (1994) Qualitative Data Analysis: An Expanded Sourcebook (2nd ed.). London: SageGoogle Scholar
  65. 65.
    Ainley M, Hidi S, Berndorff D (2002) Interest, learning and the psychological processes that mediate their relationship. J Educ Psychol, 94:545–561CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. 66.
    Hidi S, Renninger KA (2006) The four-phase model of interest development. Educ Psychol, 41:111–127CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. 67.
    Hidi S, Renninger KA, Krapp A (2004) Interest, a motivational variable that combines affective and cognitive functioning. In D. Dai and R. Sternberg (Eds.), Motivation, Emotion and Cognition: Integrative Perspectives on Intellectual Functioning and Development (pp. 89–115). Hillsdale, NJ: ErlbaumGoogle Scholar
  68. 68.
    Schiefele U, Krapp A (1996) Topic interest and free recall of expository text. Learn Individ Differ, 8:141–160CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. 69.
    Mitchell M (1993) Situational interest: its multifaceted structure in the secondary school mathematics classroom. J Educ Psychol, 85:424–436CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. 70.
    Bergin DA (1999) Influences on classroom interest. Educ Psychol, 34:87–98CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. 71.
    White J, O’Connor J, Mousley J, Cole M, MacGillivray H (2003) Rebuilding the Enabling Sciences: Reclaiming the Key to Unlock the Nation’s Potential. http://www.raci.org.au/national/news/mediareleases.html. Accessed 13 May 2008

Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. V. George
    • 1
  • J. R. Read
    • 2
  • S. C. Barrie
    • 1
  • R. B. Bucat
    • 3
  • M. A. Buntine
    • 2
  • G. T. Crisp
    • 2
  • I. M. Jamie
    • 4
  • S. H. Kable
    • 1
  1. 1.The University of SydneySydneyAustralia
  2. 2.The University of AdelaideAdelaideAustralia
  3. 3.The University of Western AustraliaCrawleyAustralia
  4. 4.Macquarie UniversitySydneyAustralia

Personalised recommendations