Proposal Title

Improving scaffolding to increase learning in chemistry labs

Session Type

Short and Tweet

Room

P&A Rm 150

Start Date

July 2015

Keywords

Lab, Engagement, Skill Development, Scaffolding

Primary Threads

Teaching and Learning Science

Abstract

Instrumental chemistry labs face limitations because there is usually only one of each instrument in the lab. Lab schedules generally have pairs of students rotating through all the instruments in the lab, and each student (or pair of students) only gets one chance to work on each instrument in the lab. There is little opportunity to learn from mistakes and build important skills. It can also make the labs stressful with every student facing a new situation every week. We looked at our lab schedule and considered how we could get the students on each instrument twice. We started with a low stakes, low stress round of preliminary experiments to expose them to the instruments, and followed with a higher stakes round where they evaluated unknown samples. This change resulted in increased scaffolding within the course itself and to the prerequisite course. Come and see what the students, the TA’s and I the lab coordinator had to say.

Summary: Preliminary experiments introduce complex concepts, reduce student stress and increase engagement and learning in the chemistry lab.

Elements of Engagement

Lots of pictures, and examples from the lab. Using puzzles to simulate what students go through in lab.

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Jul 9th, 2:30 PM

Improving scaffolding to increase learning in chemistry labs

P&A Rm 150

Instrumental chemistry labs face limitations because there is usually only one of each instrument in the lab. Lab schedules generally have pairs of students rotating through all the instruments in the lab, and each student (or pair of students) only gets one chance to work on each instrument in the lab. There is little opportunity to learn from mistakes and build important skills. It can also make the labs stressful with every student facing a new situation every week. We looked at our lab schedule and considered how we could get the students on each instrument twice. We started with a low stakes, low stress round of preliminary experiments to expose them to the instruments, and followed with a higher stakes round where they evaluated unknown samples. This change resulted in increased scaffolding within the course itself and to the prerequisite course. Come and see what the students, the TA’s and I the lab coordinator had to say.

Summary: Preliminary experiments introduce complex concepts, reduce student stress and increase engagement and learning in the chemistry lab.