P852: Guided inquiry in physical chemistry lab at UMass increases engagement
The implementation of Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL) style labs in the University of Massachusetts physical chemistry laboratory (PCL) has made a notable difference in the engagement of students during and after the lab. This year one traditional style experiment was replaced by a POGIL-PCL experiment under development based on that traditional experiment. In addition, most of the labs were revised to ask the students to form hypotheses about the outcomes of the experiments before attending lab, and asked them questions along the way to completing the traditional physical chemistry experiments. The change in engagement during oral reports was striking. Most students were more comfortable with the material and could more easily answer questions about the experiment (“why,” “how,” “what does that mean,” etc.) without struggling because they had been provided the tools to take the steps from the experimental results to understanding the material. We believe that the reason for this is the revised experiments introduced more step-by-step questions and pre-lab hypothesis forming that caused the students to engage in conversation during class about why certain results should or shouldn’t occur. I observed lively debate between students about the hypothesis they had formed before coming to class or asked about during the laboratory period; they also made connections more easily because they were given the roadmap to find the solutions rather than the simple directive of carry out the experiment and talk about the results.