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What is it?

Laboratory work is particularly important in science and technology disciplines, not least because labs provide an environment in which learning is placed in context. Laboratory classes should always have a clearly defined goal and the literature provides a firmly established range of goals to choose from as follows:

  1. Learning scientific information and concepts;
  2. Participating in the construction of scientific knowledge, understanding the interplay of theory and methodology;
  3. Understanding the processes of scientific enquiry and appreciating and emulating the role of scientists and engineers in enquiry:
    * Observing and measuring
    * Seeing a problem and seeking ways to solve it
    * Interpreting data and formulating generalisations
    * Building, testing and revising a theoretical model;
  4. Developing imagination and creativity;
  5. Learning manipulative and technical skills and the use of equipment;
  6. Developing relevant professional values, attitudes, and interests;
  7. Developing an orientation to the social, historical, and philosophical aspects of science and engineering;
  8. Appreciating the application of knowledge and methods;
  9. Developing literature skills;
  10. Learning how to communicate verbally and orally;
  11. Learning to work co-operatively with colleagues, developing teamwork; and
  12. Developing scientific attitudes and positive attitudes to science and stimulating interest, enjoyment and excitement in science.

(Source: HERDSA Gold Guide No. 4. Improving teaching and learning in laboratories.)


Links to relevant PD:

Case Studies:

Hunt, L., Koenders, A., & Gynnild, V. (2011). “Assessing practical laboratory skills in undergraduate molecular biology courses” in Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 37(7), 861-874.

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