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Laboratories, Teaching in

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Affective value; Experiments; “Hands-on”; “Minds-off”; Open-ended investigations; “Recipe” style tasks

One of the features of science education that sets it apart from most other subjects taught in school, perhaps the distinctive feature, is that it involves practical lessons that are, in general, undertaken in specifically designed and purpose-built laboratories. Yet although teaching in the laboratory is widely used in many countries (Lunetta et al. 2007), its educational value remains unclear, with any agreement on this being dependent upon the term “educational value” remaining very loosely defined. Indeed, despite teaching in the laboratory being both widespread and well established (Bennett 2003), research findings regarding its effectiveness in terms of developing conceptual understanding, practical skills, as well as its affective value remain, at best, ambiguous (Abrahams 2011).

However, if, as Plato suggests, the world can be divided into a world of ideas and a world...


  • Style Task
  • Teaching Laboratory
  • Open-ended Investigations
  • Positive Affective Value
  • Post-compulsory Phase

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  • Abrahams I (2011) Practical work in school science: a minds-on approach. Continuum, London

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  • Bennett J (2003) Teaching and learning science: a guide to recent research and its applications. Continuum, London

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  • Lunetta VN, Hofstein A, Clough MP (2007) Learning and teaching in the school science laboratory: an analysis of research, theory, and practice. In: Abell SK, Lederman NG (eds) Handbook of research on science education. Lawrence Erlbaum, Mahwah, pp 393–441

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Correspondence to Ian Abrahams .

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© 2014 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht

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Abrahams, I. (2014). Laboratories, Teaching in. In: Gunstone, R. (eds) Encyclopedia of Science Education. Springer, Dordrecht.

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