Session S1b (Monday, 9:30am, Wartik 111)

P106: How problem-based learning alters participants' conceptions of the nature of science and creates opportunities for meaningful learning.

Kelley Becker, Megan Grunert (Western Michigan University, USA)

Most chemists recognize the value of the laboratory experience, yet due to constraints with teaching assistant experience and turnover, as well as variable student preparation, many large institutions rely on “cookbook”-style laboratory activities. Using a meaningful learning framework (Bretz, 2001; Fink, 2003) we have designed and begun implementing Problem-Based Learning (PBL) laboratory units in Western Michigan University’s (WMU) general chemistry laboratories. Students in these laboratories are typically freshman, from a variety of academic majors. These PBL units have been developed from research topics currently under investigation within the WMU chemistry department. We will be studying (with VNOS-C pre/post design) if PBL labs are altering student and TA conceptions of the nature of science. As this study is ongoing, preliminary results (four sections of 24 students working with a pesticide sensors PBL lab unit and three other sections working in a bio-diesel production PBL lab unit) will be presented.

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