Session S26d (Wednesday, 9:30am, Thomas 117)

P719: Chemical experiences: Rethinking the role of the laboratory class

Janice Petherick (University of Western Sydney, Australia), Peter Harrowell (University of Sydney, Australia)

Student-centered learning is one of the benefits of the new first-year chemistry course at The University of Sydney. The laboratory exercises have been changed from the expository, “fill-in-the-blank” style format to inquiry and experiential learning. Some exercises are built around real-world tasks such as hand-lotion production; while others involve chemical phenomena such as oscillating reactions. There are many different facets to student-centered learning in these laboratory classes: the role of the demonstrator has changed to a facilitator; within the laboratory, students are prompted to explore, discover and experience what they are investigating; students are required to record their observations in their logbook and discuss their conclusions within small groups. This group work reinforces what the students have learnt throughout the laboratory session, and has shown to enable them to have a clearer understanding of the task, reinforce scientific skills and other outcomes that are associated with each individual laboratory exercise.

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