A REDESIGNED GENERAL CHEMISTRY LAB COURSE TO IMPROVE STUDENTS' PERFORMANCE THROUGH INQUIRY BASED LEARNING
Morgan State University (UNITED STATES)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2013 Proceedings
Publication year: 2013
Conference name: 7th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 4-5 March, 2013
Location: Valencia, Spain
Abstract:Inquiry based learning incorporated into a laboratory course encourages students’ problem solving and critical thinking skills. This paper describes our transition from a course comprised of traditional laboratory experiments that provided students with a series of prescribed steps with a method to produce the expected results to a student centered method of instruction. The general chemistry laboratory course was redesigned to include integrated critical thinking exercises, technical writing, classroom preparation, and experimental design. Major challenges encountered were converting existing experiments to “projects”; preparation of students with fundamental skills necessary to conduct the experiments, student participation and motivation; and student performance assessment. We discuss how these challenges were addressed using classroom management software and adopting best practices from our recently developed Research Process used in undergraduate research training programs (Winstead, 2010).
The lecture grades of students enrolled in the lecture and laboratory concurrently were analyzed. Students enrolled in the traditional laboratory (n= 323) were compared to students enrolled in the inquiry laboratory (n= 144). The overall percentage of students earning As and Bs increased from 26% to 42%. The NSF supported Critical Thinking Assessment (CAT) test will be administered as an additional assessment tool.
Keywords: Inquiry Based Learning, critical thinking skills, Chemistry Laboratory.