Improving stud labs


(The FASEB Journal. 2002; 16(4):A381)

Improving Learning in the Student Laboratory.

Harold Modell,1 Joel Michael,2 and Mary Pat Wenderoth3
1Physiology Educational Research Consortium, Seattle, WA 2 Rush University, Chicago, IL,  and 3Univ. of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195,

Our previous study (Modell, et al. Adv. Physiol. Educ. 23:82-90, 2000), showed that students are more likely to correct a faulty mental model when they are REQUIRED to verbalize predictions of experimental results than when ASKED TO make predictions as part of a written lab protocol. In that study, it was not clear if students actually made predictions as directed by the protocol. A repeat study was run requiring students to show their predictions to the teaching assistant (TA) before running the experiment. Results were obtained from four treatment groups: 1. (Control) a written protocol directed students to complete a prediction table for the experiment; 2. (Verification) the TA verified that students completed the prediction table. 3. (TA interaction) and 4. (Investigator interaction) students verbally declared their prediction as in the original study. In all groups, students were directed to compare their results to their predictions. Groups 3 and 4 examined their results in the presence of an instructor. Minimal improvement in learning occurred in groups 1 and 2. However, in groups 3 and 4, marked improvement in learning occurred. We conclude that laboratory instruction is most effective when students are FORCED TO PREDICT OUTCOMES AND COMPARE THEIR RESULTS TO THOSE PREDICTIONS. (Funded by NSF grant #REC-9909411.)

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