Secondary school chemistry teacher's current use of laboratory activities and the impact of expense on their laboratory choices
In the United States with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)'s emphasis on learning science while doing science, laboratory activities in the secondary school chemistry continues to be an important component of a strong curriculum. Laboratory equipment and consumable materials create a unique expense which chemistry teachers and schools must deal with if laboratory activities are part of the chemistry curriculum. While other barriers impacting teachers' use of laboratory activities have been researched, the impact of expense on teachers' choices is not as clear. This study sought to understand secondary school chemistry teachers' current laboratory practices and the impact expense has on their use of laboratory activities in their classroom. Using an online survey and follow-up interviews, the study found that a majority of secondary chemistry teachers surveyed use laboratory activities, though not always including scientific practices advocated by NGSS. The frequency of laboratory activities used by teachers was not statistically impacted by school type, available funds for materials, or processes to obtain funds, but was impacted by teachers' personal ideas. Interviews provided more information about the teachers using laboratory activities regularly and those not. While most teachers are using laboratory activities regularly at the current funding levels, expense, in terms of monetary and time expenses, was shown to impact the specific choice of laboratory activity. Implications for chemistry curriculum reform including the usage of laboratory activities in chemistry courses are discussed along with implications for chemistry teacher professional development.