Inquiry-, problem-, context- and industry- based laboratories: an investigation into the impact of large-scale, longitudinal redevelopment on student perceptions of teaching laboratories

Stephen R. George-Williams, Angela L. Ziebell, Christopher Thompson, Tina Overton

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11 Citations (Scopus)


Previous work at Monash University has shown that students recognise that inquiry-, problem-, context- and industry- based experiments were better contextualised, more open to decision making and aided in the development of scientific and transferable skills. This study investigated whether these gains persisted over a longer time scale, rather than just after the completion of a given experiment. Student focus groups were conducted at the completion of units (sometimes known as a course) in which more than half of the laboratory experiments were redesigned. Annual surveys were distributed to monitor students’ perceptions of the aims of teaching laboratories, and their expectations of their own behaviour. The findings indicated that the previously noted positive outcomes were still evident at the end of a semester. The annual survey showed that whilst 2nd year students were able to appreciate the real world context of the experiments, 3rd year students did not. Overall, the large-scale changes away from expository experiments had a positive impact on student enjoyment and perceived skill development but only when meaningful proportions of the experiments were redesigned. It would appear that the continuing existence of many expository experiments undermined the students’ perceptions of the benefits gained by the new laboratory experiments.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)451-468
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Science Education
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 11 Feb 2020

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