Students' learning experience in the chemistry laboratory and their views of science: In defence of pedagogical and philosophical validation of undergraduate chemistry laboratory education

Research output: Book/ReportPh.D. thesisResearch

Although laboratory work is often regarded as an indispensable part of modern
science education, it was not until the latter 19th century that individual laboratory
work became a common phenomenon in science courses. To date, science education,
particularly on tertiary level, is thriving with both practitioners and researchers taking
a closer look at laboratories in order to make the most out of its distinctive qualities
and characters. Two of the most compelling cases for research and development in
the context of undergraduate chemistry laboratory are students’ learning and their
views of the nature of science. In my research, I inquire into the various aspects of
students’ learning in the laboratory, particularly the preparation stage for laboratory
work, and how they view science from an epistemological perspective. Results
revealed salient features of learning attributed to pre-laboratory work, information
management, and the affective domain. Pre-laboratory activities facilitate higher
order thinking in the laboratory through learning goal setting. They also help students
feel more confident with the experiments. Students use strategies to manage
information during their laboratory work by chunking information in the form of
pointers to consider, similar questions that are already answered on the online
discussion forums, and by keeping an organised laboratory book. The evaluation of
students’ views of the nature of science suggests that the majority of students have
either naïve or transitional level of understanding. Most of them are informed about
the creativity and imagination in science. They also seem to subscribe to a dynamic
view of scientific knowledge, in which ideas in science are regarded as tentative,
provisional, and developing entities. Departing from this evidence, arguments for
pedagogical and philosophical validation of undergraduate chemistry laboratory
curricula were made and future directions for research and practice were identified.
Keywords: laboratory education, undergraduate chemistry, nature of science,
pedagogical framework, philosophy of science.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020

ID: 237151308