STUDENTS’ PERCEPTIONS OF THE COMPARATIVE PHYSICAL ASPECTS OF THE PHYSICS AND CHEMISTRY LABORATORIES
University of Johannesburg (SOUTH AFRICA)
A laboratory-learning environment that engages students effectively has the role of promoting better understanding of scientific concepts as well as in shaping their attitudes towards the subject. In this respect, the perceptions of the students towards either chemistry or physics laboratories is in part reliant on the physical aspects of these laboratories in terms of the subject uptake or performances in the respective subjects. To measure these perceptions, a questionnaire developed by Che Ahmad, called the Physical Science Laboratory Environment Inventory (PSLEI) has been used in this research. The data for this comparative study was done using the Likert scale of evaluation, from which the mean values were calculated. Analysis of the results reveals that despite the students’ perceptions towards the physical aspects of the both laboratories were largely positive, the scale such as Furniture and Equipment, Learning Space, Technology, Indoor Air Quality and Safety were rated with a high degree of fitness for the chemistry laboratory as compared to the physics laboratory, where only the scale Lighting was rated with a higher degree of fitness. These results are surprising since the physics laboratory is more technologically advanced compare to the chemistry laboratory. This may be attributed to the fact that the survey was conducted with the Analytical Chemistry students whose major is chemistry while physics is regarded as an auxiliary subject.