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Are practical laboratory skills among first year science undergraduates related to academic achievement or qualification choice? Results of a pilot study.

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Presentation on theme: "Are practical laboratory skills among first year science undergraduates related to academic achievement or qualification choice? Results of a pilot study."— Presentation transcript:

1 Are practical laboratory skills among first year science undergraduates related to academic achievement or qualification choice? Results of a pilot study at Newcastle College Dr Sarah McLusky Formerly Newcastle College Currently Royal Society of Chemistry

2 Practical laboratory work SCIENCE Theoretical knowledge

3 BTEC National/Extended Diploma Applied Science A-level Science (Biology, Chemistry, Physics) A-level Applied Science Access to HE (Science) Similar academic achievement Extremely variable practical skills FdSc Analytical Chemistry FdSc Biotechnology

4 Core Lab Skills Working safely Accuracy and Skill Making up a solution Weighing out solids Diluting a solution Following instructions Using a pipette

5 Formative assessment for all new L4 FdSc students in 2012 and 2013 Students opt in or out of research study Opt in  questionnaire on L2 and L3 qualifications Useable results obtained from 25 students

6 Weigh out 1.5g copper (II) sulphate Place the powder in a beaker and dissolve in a little water

7 Put the solution in the volumetric flask and make up to the mark Get assessor to check level

8 Prepare 5ml of a 1 in 5 dilution of the copper sulphate solution

9 Fill a cuvette with a sample of your original solution… and another with your diluted solution. Measure the absorbance

10 Test Scoring (out of 35) TypeCategoryMark out of 5 based on Quantitative scoresTime takenClass mean WeightClass mean Stock absorbanceAssessor mean Dilution absorbanceAssessor mean Qualitative scoresVolumetric accuracyAssessor judgement Use of PPEAssessor judgement Good Laboratory PracticeAssessor judgement One mark was subtracted each time they asked for help

11 Scores ranged from 15 to 31 (out of 35) Most confident (highest scores) Use of PPE Weighing out Least confident (lowest scores) Preparing a dilution Using a pipette Making up solutions

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16 Do these results indicate a wider trend? Do more practical students self- select? BTEC grades are not always true indicators of academic ability

17 Some A-level and Access students claim they did no practical at all BTEC requires students to carry out tasks and demonstrate skills Is it the curriculum?

18 Possible significance Employers/ recruitment decisions Advice and Guidance University admissions Qualification status and equivalence Curriculum design Informed decision making Value of ‘wet’ practicals

19 With thanks to Julie Hizzett (co-assessor) Newcastle College colleagues Cameron (star of the photos)

20 Are practical laboratory skills among first year science undergraduates related to academic achievement or qualification choice? Results of a pilot study at Newcastle College Dr Sarah McLusky Formerly Newcastle College Currently Royal Society of Chemistry


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