Session S9a (Sunday, 2pm, Life Sciences 013)

P50: Curriculum design, implementation and assessment to support learning in general chemistry labs

Vasiliki Lykourinou (University of South Florida, USA)

Laboratory instruction is central in the chemical sciences comprising a sizeable portion of students’ curriculum, departmental budgets and laboratory space allocation. Reports concerning the effectiveness of laboratory instruction attribute shortcomings not in the practical work itself, but in the guiding principles informing curriculum design. These are often based on personal experiences and assumptions perpetuating counterproductive lab instructional practices and are not grounded on research literature and outcomes. Successful implementation ought to extend beyond choosing less traditional instructional approaches and must include careful re-design of the laboratory curriculum, training of teaching assistants, and assessment of learning goals- the latter being a crucial component of curriculum improvement. This study reports the curricular modifications following the comprehensive assessment of a General Chemistry Laboratory program at a research-intensive US university. This ongoing reform responds to the outcomes of this assessment. The instructional design was based on principles emerging from research in chemical education and mandates in US National Research Council reports and considers (a) goals and challenges for the chemical sciences reflecting the work of modern researchers in chemistry; (b) overarching learning goals highlighted as central in laboratory instruction at the undergraduate level; (c) the premise that science should be taught as it is practiced. The design approach incorporates technology to support student learning during their preparation and performance in the laboratory sessions. This work employes a bottom-up re-design involving the participants (teaching assistants and students) in first year general chemistry labs. The design task was undertaken by a team comprised of the laboratory course coordinator and graduate students in chemistry some of them in chemical education. The team used a detailed assessment plan to evaluate the outcomes and further guide the iterative development. Details of these outcomes will be outlined in this presentation.

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