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Students' cognitive focus during a chemistry laboratory exercise: Effects of a computer simulated prelab
Umeå University, Faculty of Teacher Education, Mathematics, Technology and Science Education. (UMSER)
Umeå University, Faculty of Teacher Education, Mathematics, Technology and Science Education. (CHEER)
2007 (English)In: Journal of research in science teaching, ISSN 0022-4308, Vol. 44, no 8, 1098-2736 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

To enhance the learning outcomes achieved by students, learners undertook a computer-simulated activity based on an acid-base titration prior to a university-level chemistry laboratory activity. Students were categorized with respect to their attitudes toward learning. During the laboratory exercise, questions that students asked their assistant teachers were used as indicators of cognitive focus. During the interviews, students' frequency and level of spontaneous use of chemical knowledge served as an indicator of knowledge usability. Results suggest that the simulation influenced students toward posing more theoretical questions during their laboratory work and, regardless of attitudes, exhibiting a more complex, correct use of chemistry knowledge in their interviews. A more relativistic student attitude toward learning was positively correlated with interview performance in both the control and treatment groups.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
New York: John Wiley and Sons , 2007. Vol. 44, no 8, 1098-2736 p.
Keyword [en]
Kemididaktik, Chemistry education research, simulation, laboratory work, pre-lab, intuitive knowledge, attitudes toward learning
National Category
Other Chemistry Topics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-6665DOI: 10.1002/tea.20217OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-6665DiVA: diva2:146335
Note

Tidigare titel: Effects of pre-lab simulated acid-base titration and student attitudes toward learning on students' cognitive focus and knowledge usability

Available from: 2008-09-22 Created: 2008-09-22 Last updated: 2013-12-10Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Simulation in university chemistry education: cognitive and affective aspects
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Simulation in university chemistry education: cognitive and affective aspects
2006 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis undertakes two main tasks; to explore, within the authentic educational context, variables that influence the quality and outcomes of the knowledge-constructing activity during the simulation exercise; and to find appropriate instruments and methods to measure these variables, processes and outcomes.

Closed-ended tasks that provided a high degree of structure, i.e., supported students’ regulation of learning during the simulation exercise, were more beneficial for perceived improvement of declarative knowledge and students’ motivation than open-ended tasks. Open-ended tasks did however lead to substantial shifts in students’ cognitive focus in subsequent laboratory exercises and improvement of students’ level of chemistry reasoning in interviews.

Student attitudes toward learning proved important in the first paper where significantly higher ability to apply chemistry knowledge in interviews could be found for students with relativistic attitudes compared to those with more dualistic perspectives on learning. In the subsequent papers, the effects of attitudes were not as clear, possibly due to too small differences in the learning situations that were compared.

Quality of the learning discourse during simulation was measured with three qualitatively different methods, focusing on partly different aspects. The different methods gave very similar results regarding the relative quality of the discourses. Thus, “quality” as such seems to be an underlying feature that permeates many aspects of the discourse and consequently could be targeted in different ways, e.g., focusing on quantitative as well as qualitative aspects. The analyses revealed several components of quality; co-operative activity, correctness and complexity of chemistry reasoning, discussion length and intensity, ability to realize cognitive conflict, and reference to theory while reasoning.

Doing the simulation exercise in a distributed learning setting (written e-communication), supported discussions with higher accuracy and complexity of chemistry reasoning and frequent references to theory while the face-to-face situation allowed for longer and more intense discussions and a higher degree of co-operative activity. Not very surprisingly, high-quality discussions were characterized by high scores in all these components. There were indications that relatively good pre-knowledge might be required to benefit fully from face-to-face discussions.

The validity of instruments and methods, used to measure flow experiences, attitudes (i.e., epistemological beliefs), knowledge accessibility (intuitive knowledge) and discourse quality are discussed thoroughly. Special interest has been devoted to whether qualitative data should be quantified or not, providing arguments in favor of quantitative methods for analyzing and reporting qualitative data.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Kemi, 2006. 200 p.
Keyword
Simulation, knowledge accessibility, discourse quality, cognitive load, task design, affective experiences, learning, attitudes
National Category
Didactics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-799 (URN)91-7264-097-9 (ISBN)
Public defence
2006-06-02, KB3A9, KBC-Huset, Umeå, 10:00
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2006-05-11 Created: 2006-05-11 Last updated: 2011-03-04Bibliographically approved
2. Learning Chemistry at the University level: Student attitudes, motivation, and design of the learning environment
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Learning Chemistry at the University level: Student attitudes, motivation, and design of the learning environment
2005 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The main purpose of the research this thesis is based upon was to study students’ attitudes towards learning chemistry at university level and their motivation from three perspectives. How can students’ attitudes towards learning chemistry be assessed? How can these attitudes be changed? How are learning situations experienced by students with different attitude positions?

An attitude questionnaire, assessing views of knowledge, learning assessments, laboratory activities, and perceived roles of instructors and student, was used to estimate students’ attitude positions. It was shown that a positive attitude was related to motivated student behaviour. Furthermore, it was shown that factors in the educational context, such as the teachers’ empathy for students learning chemistry, had affected the students. It was also found that students holding different attitude positions showed different learning outcomes and differed in their perceptions of the learning situation. Students’ holding a more relativistic attitude more readily accepted the challenges of open experiments and other more demanding tasks than those holding a dualistic attitude.

In addition, the teachers were found to play important roles in the way the tasks were perceived and the development of students’ ideas. In studied laboratory activities open tasks resulted in positive student engagement and learning outcomes. Preparative exercises, such as a computer simulation of the phenomena to be investigated, affected students’ focus during laboratory work, encouraging them to incorporate more theoretical considerations and increasing their ability to use chemical knowledge. Finally, it was shown that students’ focus during laboratory work is reflected in the questions they ask the teacher, implying that questions could be used as tools to evaluate laboratory teaching and learning processes.

The findings imply that students’ attitudes towards learning and motivation, and the design of learning situations, are key factors in the attainment of desirable higher educational goals such as the ability to judge, use, and develop knowledge. For universities encountering students with increasingly diverse attitudes, motivation and prior knowledge, these are important considerations if they are to fulfil their commissions to provide high quality learning environments and promote high quality learning.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Department of Chemistry, Umeå University, 2005. 47 p.
Keyword
laboratory work, open experiments, attitude, university level, motivation, cognitive load, laboratory instruction styles, attitude change, design of learning situation, student questions.
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-589 (URN)91-7305-934-x (ISBN)
Public defence
2005-10-14, KB3A9, KBC huset, 13:00
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2005-09-15 Created: 2005-09-15 Last updated: 2012-05-10Bibliographically approved

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