Session S55a (Monday, 5:15pm, Willaman Gateway)

P337: Engaging students in scientific method in introductory chemistry lab

K. Joseph Ho (University of New Mexico, USA)

Most of the college chemistry labs are expository, which verify theories and principles taught in the lecture courses and practice basic laboratory techniques. The expository labs are usually cook-book and provide no practice of scientific method. We have developed an introductory chemistry lab that brings students into the practice of chemists in the laboratory. A chemistry problem is given to the students in pre-lab exercises, and students need to write a hypothesis and design an experiment to prove or disprove the hypothesis. The physical lab is started by instructor facilitated discussion of the student-designed experiments to ensure lab safety. The discussion continues throughout the lab period with lots of trials and errors and problem-solving events. They learn necessary skills in handling laboratory equipment during this process, practice processing data and applying scientific reasoning in drawing their conclusion. They presented their final conclusion in a written report and an oral presentation to the class.

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