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Title: Student learning and teacher intervention in an undergraduate engineering laboratory
Author: Dearden, Garry John
ISNI:       0000 0001 3421 2245
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 1979
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A two-term introductory electrical and electronic engineering laboratory programme at the University of Surrey was studied intensively for two successive academic years. The research reported in this thesis represents the outcome of that effort. Referring to published accounts on laboratory teaching methods, Chapter One argues for investigations of teachers teaching and students studying as these occur naturally in science and engineering laboratories. The suggestion is for a switch in research effort. From inquiries which emphasise what could or should happen in laboratories to the examination of what actually does happen. Methods of inquiry used in educational evaluation and research are reviewed in Chapter Two and the newly emerging anthropological paradigm is identified as most appropriate. A range of theoretical and methodological ideas and concepts used by those pursuing work in this paradigm are adopted and a general research approach suited to the specific setting of an engineering laboratory is proposed. A major concern of this thesis, then, is the ways in which this general stance was able to be translated into practice. Chapter Three addresses several procedural issues that arise and need attending to when collecting field-work data. Details of who was spoken to or observed, when, where, for how long, and how often, are all included in this chapter. In Chapter Four the Surrey lab emerges as a learning environment that channells the actions of its students in certain specific directions. Three local customs of conduct are identified (working quickly, preparatory working, working mechanically). To characterise the different features that make up the lab context the concept of a Laboratory Instructional Script and Laboratory Management Framework is introduced. The student act of working mechanically through experiments is focussed upon in Chapter Five. The way in which this relates to how students learn in the lab and what they learn is subsequently examined. Using twenty years of documentary records, Chapter Six reviews several attempts made to change the Surrey lab programme. The chapter argues that many of the interventions were based on incorrect assumptions about how students respond in the lab and, therefore, resulted in serious unintended as well as intended effects. Chapter Seven briefly re-considers the method of inquiry used in the thesis and the rationale behind its adoption. The main ideas and concepts developed during the work are drawn together and their generalisability status is discussed. Finally an attempt is made to locate the reported work in the wider arena of educational research. Each student in the Surrey laboratory proceeds each week through a separate script of experimental instructions. In Appendix I four of the sixteen scripts used in the programme are included (in full) for the reader's perusal.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available