Integration of Cooperative, Project-based, Experiments for Introductory Chemistry Laboratory Programs
I am interested in the integration of cooperative, project-based, experiments for introductory chemistry laboratory programs. Research evidence shows that traditional, verification laboratory activities are not effective in attaining the desired goals of laboratory education, such as those put forth by the National Research Council in 2005: “development of scientific reasoning, understanding of the nature of science, developing practical skills, cultivating interest in science and in learning science, developing team working skills and supporting mastery of subject matter”. However, this instructional model prevails in college science education. Three obstacles that may hamper successful lab reform are: (a) not using a systematic instructional design approach, (b) lack of collaboration between chemistry educational researchers and practitioners, and (c) insufficient support for instructors to face the period of design and implementation. I am interested in design and implementation of the academic environments that introduce students to authentic experimental learning opportunities in introductory chemistry courses.
In such environments, learners will be able to experiment and not simply go through the motions of reproducing procedures in verification lab activities. The curricular reform I am interested will be in alignment with current principles of instructional theory and instruction design, and uses an Integrated Course Design approach.
I will support my work on approaches and results from successful programs already in place at other institutions (e.g., University of South Florida, Clemson University), in which I have experienced first-hand their laboratory programs. I believe that laboratory reforms and curricula like these ones respond to calls by experts and authoritative advising entities and agencies (e.g., NSF, National Research Council, ACS) to transform laboratory instruction and realize its pedagogical potential.