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‘What do you think the aims of doing a practical chemistry course are?’ A comparison of the views of students and teaching staff across three universities.

Abstract

The aims of teaching laboratories is an important topic of discussion amongst teaching staff in universities. It is often assumed that both teaching staff and students are implicitly aware of these aims, although this is rarely tested or measured. This assumption can lead to mismatched beliefs between students and teaching staff and, if not corrected, could lead to negative learning experiences for students and become a source of frustration for teaching staff. In order to measure and identify this potential gap in a manner that could be readily generalised to other institutions, a single open question - ‘What do you think the aims of doing a practical chemistry course are?’ – was distributed to students and teaching staff at two Australian universities and one UK university. Qualitative analysis of the responses revealed that students, teaching associates and academics held relatively narrow views of the aims of teaching laboratories, particularly focusing on aims aligned with expository experiences (e.g. development of practical skills or enhancing understanding of theory). Whilst some minor differences were noted between students at the three institutions, the overwhelming similarities in their responses indicated a fairly common perception of the aims of teaching laboratories. Of the three groups, academics held the narrowest view of teaching laboratories, typically neglecting the preparation of students for the workforce or the simple increase in laboratory experience the students could gain. This study highlights gaps between the perceptions of students and teaching staff with regards to laboratory aims and reveals that all three groups held relatively simplistic views of teaching laboratories.

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Publication details

The article was received on 15 Sep 2017, accepted on 18 Jan 2018 and first published on 19 Jan 2018


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C7RP00177K
Citation: Chem. Educ. Res. Pract., 2018, Accepted Manuscript
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    ‘What do you think the aims of doing a practical chemistry course are?’ A comparison of the views of students and teaching staff across three universities.

    S. R. George-Williams, A. L. Ziebell, C. D. Thompson and T. L. Overton, Chem. Educ. Res. Pract., 2018, Accepted Manuscript , DOI: 10.1039/C7RP00177K

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