Students' learning experience in the chemistry laboratory and their views of science: in defence of pedagogical and philosophical validation of undergraduate chemistry laboratory education
Agustian, Hendra Yusup
Although laboratory work is often regarded as an indispensable part of modern science education, it was not until the latter 19th century that individual laboratory work became a common phenomenon in science courses. To date, science education, particularly on tertiary level, is thriving with both practitioners and researchers taking a closer look at laboratories in order to make the most out of its distinctive qualities and characters. Two of the most compelling cases for research and development in the context of undergraduate chemistry laboratory are students’ learning and their views of the nature of science. In my research, I inquire into the various aspects of students’ learning in the laboratory, particularly the preparation stage for laboratory work, and how they view science from an epistemological perspective. Results revealed salient features of learning attributed to pre-laboratory work, information management, and the affective domain. Pre-laboratory activities facilitate higher order thinking in the laboratory through learning goal setting. They also help students feel more confident with the experiments. Students use strategies to manage information during their laboratory work by chunking information in the form of pointers to consider, similar questions that are already answered on the online discussion forums, and by keeping an organised laboratory book. The evaluation of students’ views of the nature of science suggests that the majority of students have either naïve or transitional level of understanding. Most of them are informed about the creativity and imagination in science. They also seem to subscribe to a dynamic view of scientific knowledge, in which ideas in science are regarded as tentative, provisional, and developing entities. Departing from this evidence, arguments for pedagogical and philosophical validation of undergraduate chemistry laboratory curricula were made and future directions for research and practice were identified. Keywords: laboratory education, undergraduate chemistry, nature of science, pedagogical framework, philosophy of science.