P273: Investigating the effect of simplifying lab work on students’ discussions of chemistry lab work
The Framework for K-12 Science Education (National Research Council, 2012) and the Next Generation Science Standards (Achieve, 2013) focus on engaging students in scientific practices and content. Laboratory work is one way to engage students in scientific practices. However, several studies have shown that students generally learn little from participating in labs. Students often focus on procedural aspects of lab work such as completing the steps and do not connect lab work with science content. This case study was conduct to determine if students participate in the lab was effected by simplifying the procedures of the lab work. Students in a high school chemistry class were randomly assigned to experimental or controlled groups. The controlled group completed the standard form of a lab the teacher used. In this lab, students completed about half a dozen double replacement reactions. The experimental group completed one single replacement reaction with careful observations of the reactants and products. Two groups completing each form of lab were recorded and their discussion was analyzed to evaluate how much time students spent discussing procedural aspects of the lab, concepts related to the lab, or off-task topics. The discussions were also evaluated to determine the depth of the content related discussions.