P520: Comparative study of the effect of cooperative prelab and postlab group discussions in general chemistry laboratories: Results from University of the Sciences in Philadelphia and University of Jyvaskyla in Finland

Author: Madhu Mahalingam, University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, USA

Co-Author: Jouni Valisaari, University of Jyvaskyla, Finland

Date: 8/5/14

Time: 2:25 PM2:45 PM

Room: LTT 103

Related Symposium: S13

The objective of the research was to study the effect of pre and post-lab group discussions on learning in University level General Chemistry laboratories. This group learning model was implemented in General Chemistry laboratory courses at two universities: USciences in US and JYU in Finland. Students were placed in mixed-skill groups of 3-4 students for the activities. At both universities, the model was implemented in half of the laboratory sections, with the rest of the sections following the traditional instructional model. The study involved over 300 students. The effect of group discussion on learning was evaluated by qualitative and quantitative research methods. Student and teaching assistant surveys were administered to obtain feedback on the effect of discussion on learning, and attitudes. Learning outcomes were assessed by analyzing responses to short answer questions according to a rubric developed by authors and multiple choice questions on the lab exam. Results from qualitative analysis of surveys indicate that a majority of the students at both universities (70% at JYU and 73% at USciences) perceived an overall or slightly positive impact on their learning. Statistical analysis of responses to open and multiple choice questions was done on SPSS. The difference between the median and mean scores for the experimental and control groups was not statistically significant. Based on the overall positive response in the qualitative surveys, we believe that the group discussion model has a positive impact on student attitudes toward learning and therefore, will have a positive impact on student learning.