P49: Investigation of student-peer and student-TA discourse in problem-based organic chemistry lab: What is the influence of problem-type on the student experience?
Students, and the instructors who guide them, learn content and exercise scientific process skills when they engage in problem-based experiments in the lab. The relative openness of the problem on which an experiment is based may affect the nature of the students’ experience and frequency at which they encounter opportunities to exercise critical thinking. In this study we introduced second-term organic chemistry students to experiments based on problems that ranged in openness. The objective was to tune the experimental focus to maximize student development of process skills while also providing safe and accessible tasks. To gauge the effect of problem type on student experience, verbal interactions among student groups were captured by audio recording in lab, in pre-lab planning sessions, and in unstructured interviews that were performed after each experiment. Transcripts of the recordings were coded using the constant comparison method and analyzed to investigate student engagement in science process skills and higher order thinking. Student formative assessment of problem solving was evaluated to explore the nature of student-generated solutions when student groups, individual students, and TAs were presented with problems of varying level of openness. In this session, we will present the outcomes from our study.