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Benefiting from an open-ended experiment? A comparison of attitudes to, and outcomes of, an expository versus an open-inquiry version of the same experiment
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Chemistry. Faculty of Teacher Education, Mathematics, Technology and Science Education.
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Chemistry.
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Chemistry.
Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology, Chemistry.
2003 (English)In: International Journal of Science Education, Vol. 25, no 3, 351-72 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In this article we compare outcomes of an open-inquiry and an expository version of a chemistry laboratory experiment at university level for 190 students. The aim of the study was to investigate if these two versions would result in different outcomes depending on the students' attitudes towards learning. We used a questionnaire to find out their attitude position prior to the laboratory experiment. The outcome in the different versions of the experiment was evaluated by interviews, questions asked during the experiment and students self-evaluations. The main findings were that the open-inquiry version shows the most positive outcomes regarding learning outcome, preparation time, time spent in the laboratory and student perception of the experiment. The students with low attitude position needed more support to meet the challenge of an open-inquiry experiment, the support being a clearer explanation of the aims, and feedback from the instructor during the experiment.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2003. Vol. 25, no 3, 351-72 p.
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-9975DOI: doi:10.1080/09500690210145738OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-9975DiVA: diva2:149646
Available from: 2008-08-22 Created: 2008-08-22 Last updated: 2012-05-10Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. 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
2. Development of competence in biochemical experimental work: Assessment of complex learning at university level
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Development of competence in biochemical experimental work: Assessment of complex learning at university level
2004 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Biochemistry is part of life science: a fast developing multidisciplinary area. The overall aims of this thesis and the work underlying it were to find ways in which to develop competence in biochemistry at university level and to assess complex learning. A particular interest was the development of experimental work as a means to promote learning.

The study focuses on changes made in two educational settings. The aim of the changes was to develop competence, amongst both students and teachers. Therefore, the research in the three first papers has in some aspects, and to different extent, the characteristics of action research. Broadly, the changes can be described as making experiments more open, with multiple formative and authentic assessment methods involving both students and teachers. The empirical studies included questionnaires, interviews, questions asked during experimental work, written material as formulated objectives, examination questions and answers, reports, other products; and grades/judgements made by teachers and students. Collected data were analyzed in several different ways. Statistical methods included the use of mean values, paired T-tests, Spearman rank correlation coefficients and Principal Component Analysis. Interview data as well as some questionnaire data were analyzed using analytical induction techniques. Some categories were based on thematic content analysis, while others were based on Bloom’s taxonomy. Students’ attitude positions were categorized according to Perry’s framework.

The main results can be summarized as follows;

The students’ learning was improved by open ended versions of experimental work, according to both their and the researchers’ opinions. Planning, approaching problems from different perspectives and evaluating the results of their own experimental work promote the students’ capacity for higher order cognitive thinking. However, the synthesis level constitutes a threshold and particular support is needed for students with a more dualistic view of teaching, learning and experimental work.

Introducing formative and authentic assessment is a way to help students to make progress, and to develop competence. The importance was clearly demonstrated of involving both teachers and students in discussions of aims and criteria and of making them explicit. Feedback from teachers’ and students’ own reflective activities about subject content, and their learning as well as affective factors were shown to be central for complex learning. Based on our studies, areas were identified for the critical development of competence and for promoting learning in biochemistry at university level. These areas are; multidisciplinary and complex learning, communication skills of different types, metacognitive perspectives, attitude development, and affective factors.

The students see experimental work as crucial for their learning and therefore important in terms of assessment. Therefore, experimental work can and ought to be assessed. However, similarities and discrepancies were observed between students’ and teachers’ perspectives for both the aims and assessment of experimental work. Our conclusion is that a combination of assessment methods is needed in order to be able to make a high qualitative assessment.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Kemi, 2004. 68 p.
Keyword
Teaching, experimental work, laboratory based project work, open experiments, biochemistry, life science, university level, action research, course design, aims and objectives, assessment, formative assessment, competence, complex learning, Didaktik
National Category
Didactics
Research subject
Biochemistry
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-313 (URN)91-7305-711-8 (ISBN)
Public defence
2004-10-02, KB3A9, KBC, Umeå Universitet, Umeå, 10:00
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2004-09-13 Created: 2004-09-13 Last updated: 2012-05-10Bibliographically approved

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