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A practical approach to the transition Dr Catherine Smith RSC School Teacher Fellow 2011-2012 Science AST, John Cleveland College, Hinckley, Leicestershire.

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Presentation on theme: "A practical approach to the transition Dr Catherine Smith RSC School Teacher Fellow 2011-2012 Science AST, John Cleveland College, Hinckley, Leicestershire."— Presentation transcript:

1 A practical approach to the transition Dr Catherine Smith RSC School Teacher Fellow 2011-2012 Science AST, John Cleveland College, Hinckley, Leicestershire

2 The challenge ‘Students often arrive with poor practical skills because of their limited use of laboratory equipment, or the tendency of schools to rely on demonstrations. The weakness in problem-solving ability probably stems from the difference in teaching methods between schools and universities. Directors of Teaching comment that universities expect independent learners whereas at schools students are teacher-led.’ Review of Student Learning Experience in Chemistry 2008 The Higher Education Academy, Physical Sciences Centre

3 The challenge Results of sampling 518 first year undergraduate students (from the Universities of Leicester, Liverpool, Loughborough, Newcastle, Northumbria, Nottingham, Sheffield, Southampton, UCL and Imperial College) 91% can use a burette with no help 80% would find it easy to calculate a solution’s concentration 86% would find it easy to use a pipette to accurately measure a known volume We can certainly see not much familiarity with titration for our first year students!! and yet…….

4 The challenge Review by The Gatsby Charitable Foundation Perceptions of science staff in the 15 Russell group universities in England regarding the standard of laboratory skills possessed by new undergraduate students; “They find it difficult to diagnose and think through problems and are quick to blame equipment rather than their own technique” “They can’t apply these tools and these skills outside the narrow environment in which they were taught” House of Commons, Science and Technology Committee, May 2011 Practical experiments in school science lessons and science field trips (HC1060-11) http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201012/cmselect/cmsctech/1060/1060ii.pdf

5 The challenge How often in school practical experiments did you? Results of sampling 518 first year undergraduate students (from the Universities of Leicester, Liverpool, Loughborough, Newcastle, Northumbria, Nottingham, Sheffield, Southampton, UCL and Imperial College)

6 Improvements in science education should be brought about through the introduction of inquiry- based approaches in schools Science Education NOW Problem based approach to learning The importance of pre-lab exercises Expertise from universities Kelly and Finlayson, Dublin City University Seery et al., Dublin Institute of Technology Literature A problem based approach Science Education NOW: A Renewed Pedagogy for the Future of Europe, European Commission Directorate-General for Research, Science, Economy and Society, EUR 22845, 2007. Kelly O.C. and Finlayson O. E., (2007), Providing solutions through problem-based learning for the undergraduate 1 st year chemistry laboratory, Chem. Educ. Res. Pract., 8, 347-361 Mc Donnell C., O’Connor C. and Seery M. K., (2007), Developing practical chemistry skills by means of student-driven problem based learning mini-projects, Chem. Educ. Res. Pract., 8, 130-139 The answer?

7 Example A dentist writes to the students asking them for advice as to which of three drinks; lemonade, orange juice or white wine he should recommend to his patients to minimise acid erosion of tooth enamel How can I measure acid concentration?What is the acid in the drinks?Which base do I need?Which indicator should I use? What concentration of base do I need?

8 The problem based practical activities Pre-lab questions given for homework Lessons 1+2 – Students work in groups of 3 to solve the practical problem For homework, students work collaboratively to produce a single final report Independent study skills Research skills Communication Team working Practical skills Scientific writing Organisation Evaluation SKILLS DEVELOPED

9 The problem based practical activities Problem 1 – Carbonate rocks Curriculum links; Stoichiometry Practical skills; Top pan balance, accuracy Problem 2 – A little gas Curriculum links; Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution, ideal gases Practical skills; Excel spreadsheets, y = mx + c graph plotting and analysis Problem 3 - Cleaning Solutions Curriculum links; Redox, halogens, bleach Practical skills; Reacting masses, gas volumes Problem 4 - Alcohol detective Curriculum links; Organic nomenclature, alcohols Practical skills; Distillation, alcohol tests Problem 5 - Coursework conundrum Curriculum links; Oxidation of alcohols, carboxylic acids Practical skills; Recrystallisation, TLC

10 The problem based practical activities Problem 6 - Acid erosion Curriculum links; Strong and weak acids, pH curves, indicators Practical skills; Titration Problem 7 – Iodination Inquiry Curriculum links; Rates of reactions, rate determining steps Practical skills; Clock reactions Problem 8 - Compound confusion Curriculum links; Analytical methods Practical skills; Melting point, spectral analysis Problem 9 - Cool drinking Curriculum links; Enthalpy of solution, Hess’s cycles Practical skills; Calorimetry, graph plotting Problem 10 - Patient prognosis Curriculum links; TM complexes Practical skills; Colorimetry, GC analysis, dilution

11 With thanks to Aysha Bhatti and George Marshall University of Leicester Deborah Tedstone, Science Technician


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