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Title: A comparative study of undergraduate laboratory courses in chemistry
Author: Watson, J. R.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3564 2327
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 1980
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This thesis studies methods of teaching and learning in undergraduate chemistry laboratory courses, in order to relate different groups of laboratory aims to different styles of laboratory courses and to examine important factors which are affecting the achievement of the aims. First a list of aims was drawn up and the different types of laboratory courses described in the literature were examined. A survey questionnaire about aims and teaching methods used in the laboratory was then sent to 307 chemistry staff. In order to understand the processes of teaching and learning in the laboratory in more depth, six laboratory courses were evaluated using the illuminative style of evaluation. The methods of evaluation although similar in each case study had to be adapted so that the most effective method of evaluation could be used on each occasion. The evaluations involved the study of any documentary evidence available and the use of questionnaires, interviews and observation. The evaluations started by concentrating on a wide range of issues but progressively focussing on important issues and studying these in more depth. The final chapter of the thesis draws together all the information collected in earlier chapters. The more important findings and recommendations are described below: (1) The aims and characteristics of traditional courses are described. (2) The types of interaction between the different groups of people involved in traditional courses are described and the effect of these interactions on the learning environment is discussed. (3) The amount and nature of staff and postgraduate demonstrator teaching is discussed and it is found that courses could be improved by providing some sort of postgraduate demonstrator training. (4) Mthods of replacing some aspects of the work of teaching staff are discussed. These include the use of audio-visual materials, computers, group work and students working in pairs. (5) The aims and characteristics of open courses are described. (6) The open nature of these courses is found to lead to students sometimes having difficulties with coping with such courses, which in turn leads to more demands being made on staff and demonstrators both in time and in terms of expertise. The need for a lower student: teacher ratio and for postgraduate demonstrator training in this type of course is emphasised. (7) The problems of teaching practical skills and techniques in open courses are discussed. (8) Traditional and open courses are compared and it is concluded that often staff and students feel that open courses are better able to achieve their aims. The main constraint preventing a shift to more open work is lack of sufficient and suitably trained teaching staff. (9) Finally a number of alternative laboratory styles and a variety of methods available for improving present courses, are discussed.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Education & training