Adrian Villalta-Cerdas, Todd Gatlin, Santiago Sandi-Urena (University of South Florida, USA)
The study of learning in the general chemistry laboratory has mostly focused on aspects such as technical skills, content knowledge, communication skills, and personal satisfaction. The use of self-reports has predominated and rarely has the development of higher order intellectual skills been studied. Phenomenology has been described as a powerful tool for investigating the academic chemistry laboratory; however it has been seldom used for this purpose. This study investigates the effect that the enacted instructional environment has on students’ framing of the learning experience and their conceptualization of learning in the chemistry lab. Students were interviewed and a phenomenological approach was used for the analysis and interpretation of data. It is our premise that this approach will contribute towards identifying the factors that promote learning in the lab, which may then provide insightful information about the design and implementation of lab experiences. This study belongs to a larger research program designed to use the same methodology across multiple learning environments. Evidence for the relationship between the format of the laboratory and student’s framing of the learning experience will be presented and discussed.