June 15, 2019
June 15, 2019
June 19, 2019
Experimentation and Laboratory-Oriented Studies
This research paper will describe the results of an experiment in which the level of inquiry in a laboratory manual is varied from guided inquiry to open inquiry by reducing the specificity of the instructions in the lab manual. The hypothesis is that less specific instructions will cause students to reflect on their actions in lab and, as a result, circle further around Kolb’s experiential learning cycle during each step of the lab. This should result in improved recall and better integration of laboratory and classroom understanding. Student learning outcomes are assessed using an in-lab, direct assessment which evaluates both students’ laboratory skills and their ability to relate experiences in the laboratory to classroom learning. Student attitudes are also assessed with surveys.
The in-lab assessment is the primary tool used to assess student learning outcomes, so it is discussed in detail. It is a series of questions which are designed to be answered at a laboratory bench. The questions ask the student to record data from an instrument using an oscilloscope, extract information from that data, and then use the extracted information to perform analysis.
The experiment had 195 participants, 106 in the specific-instruction, control group and 89 in the non-specific instruction, treatment group. Results show that more treatment students than control students learned to scale a signal on an oscilloscope screen , while control students learned to use an oscilloscope’s built-in save/recall feature more effectively. There is also weak evidence that shows greater affective gains in the treatment group. This shows that there is potential for increasing student learning by studying how best to write laboratory manuals, and that increasing reflection is a way to achieve that goal. However, it also shows that there are many ways to increase reflection, and further research is required to identify them thoroughly.
Rosen, S., & Griffith, S., & Byrnes, E., & Santana, S. M., & Palucki Blake, L., & Spencer, M. (2019, June), Relating Level of Inquiry in Laboratory Instructions to Student Learning Outcomes Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. https://peer.asee.org/33232
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