P50: Student perspectives of the undergraduate laboratory: Comparison between chemistry, physics and biology, between general and upper classes, and between US and Australia [WITHDRAWN]

Author: Justin Read, The University of Sydney, Australia

Co-Author: Mark Buntine, Curtin University of Technology, Australia; Karen Burke da Silva, Flinders University, Australia; Scott Kable, The University of New South Wales, Australia; Kieran Lim, Deakin University, Australia; Simon Pyke, The University of Adelaide, Australia; Manjula Sharma and Alexandra Yeung, The University of Sydney, Australia

Date: 8/3/14

Time: 2:45 PM3:05 PM

Room: MAN 123

Related Symposium: S8

The Advancing Science by Enhancing Learning in the Laboratory (ASELL) project has been supporting laboratory development in Australia since 1999. It expanded from a physical chemistry focus to cover broad chemistry, biology and physics. One aspect of the project involves the evaluation of individual laboratory activities from the students’ perspective, providing valuable guidance for the improvement of each activity. The ASELL Student Learning Experience (ASLE) survey has been developed and validated for this purpose. Data have been collected on more than 50 chemistry experiments from over 3000 students across at least 20 universities in Australia and the United States. Having data from the same instrument from disparate sources allows investigation of aspects of the laboratory experience that result in students valuing the activity. This presentation will discuss ASLE data that show the aspects of a laboratory experiment which lead to the activity being valued by students. The importance of pragmatic factors (like quality of notes and assessment procedures) as well as less tangible factors (increased knowledge / understanding and opportunities for collaboration and taking responsibility for one’s learning) will be discussed. Sufficient data exist to compare responses from students in first (general) studies and upper-level studies of a subject. Additionally, comparison of chemistry, physics and biology students will be presented, as well as a comparison of student perceptions of lab courses in Australian and US universities.

P54: Fostering student interest and promoting deep learning in a laboratory context: A case study in gas laws in first-year chemistry

Author: Matthew D. Norris, Flinders University, Australia

Co-Author: Justin R. Read, University of Sydney, Australia; Michael G. Crisp, University of South Australia, Australia; Ingo Koeper, Flinders University, Australia

Date: 8/3/14

Time: 4:20 PM4:40 PM

Room: MAN 123

Related Symposium: S8

This presentation will explore two activities used in a first-year university chemistry laboratory, which offer insights into promoting student interest in practice. Tools developed by the Advancing Science by Enhancing Learning in the Laboratory (ASELL, formerly ACELL with ‘C’ = Chemistry) project were used to examine both experiments. The presentation will explore how students’ responses, evidenced by the data collected, led to the decision to replace rather than to attempt to renovate the existing exercise. Strengths of the existing design were maintained whilst weaknesses were addressed. This evidence-based laboratory redevelopment has led to significant improvements in every area of the student experience and has resulted in an activity comparable with the most positively evaluated student experience examined using ASELL tools to date. The two experiments both examine the physical properties of gases and both utilize everyday materials, yet we could measure clear differences in the students’ experience. For both activities, the evidence shows that situational interest was triggered and yet success in maintaining it and using the resulting engagement to foster improved understanding was markedly different. The new activity is demonstrably effective in making the ideal gas law more concrete for students, and student understanding is then applied to the challenge of identifying an unknown substance, thereby tangibly demonstrating the utility of their work. The first experiment was rated as very valuable or better by 13.5% of students, whereas the second experiment received this rating from 94.4%. The reasons for these differences are instructive for design of other laboratory activities.