Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Thomas J. Greenbowe
Many students encounter difficulties engaging with laboratory-based instruction, and reviews of research have indicated that the value of such instruction is not clearly evident. Traditional forms of writing associated with laboratory activities are commonly in a style used by professional scientists to communicate developed explanations. Students probably lack the interpretative skills of a professional, and writing in this style may not support students in learning how to develop scientific explanations. The Science Writing Heuristic (SWH) is an inquiry-based approach to laboratory instruction designed in part to promote student ability in developing such explanations. However, there is not a convincing body of evidence for the superiority of inquiry-based laboratory instruction in chemistry.;In a series of studies, the performance of students using the SWH student template in place of the standard laboratory report format was compared to the performance of students using the standard format. The standard reports had Title, Purpose, Procedure, Data & Observations, Calculations & Graphs, and Discussion sections. The SWH reports had Beginning Questions & Ideas, Tests & Procedures, Observations, Claims, Evidence, and Reflection sections. The pilot study produced evidence that using the SWH improved the quality of laboratory reports, improved student performance on a laboratory exam, and improved student approach to laboratory work.;A main study found that SWH students statistically exhibited a better understanding of physical equilibrium when written explanations and equations were analyzed on a lecture exam and performed descriptively better on a physical equilibrium practical exam task. In another main study, the activities covering the general equilibrium concept were restructured as an additional change, and it was found that SWH students exhibited a better understanding of chemical equilibrium as shown by statistically greater success in overcoming the common confusion of interpreting equilibrium as equal concentrations and by statistically better performance when explaining aspects of chemical equilibrium. Both main studies found that students and instructors spent less time on the SWH reports and that students preferred the SWH approach because it increased their level of mental engagement. The studies supported the conclusion that inquiry-based laboratory instruction benefits student learning and attitudes.
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James Andrew Rudd, II
Rudd, James Andrew II, "The effect of restructuring student writing in the general chemistry laboratory on student understanding of chemistry and on students' approach to the laboratory course " (2001). Retrospective Theses and Dissertations. 669.