The use of computer-aided learning in chemistry laboratory instruction
Brian Robert Tracy Allred, University of Louisville, United States
University of Louisville . Awarded
This research involves developing and implementing computer software for chemistry laboratory instruction. The specific goal is to design the software and investigate whether it can be used to introduce concepts and laboratory procedures without a lecture format. This would allow students to conduct an experiment even though they may not have been introduced to the chemical concept in their lecture course. This would also allow for another type of interaction for those students who respond more positively to a visual approach to instruction.
The first module developed was devoted to using computer software to help introduce students to the concepts related to thin-layer chromatography and setting up and running an experiment. This was achieved through the use of digitized pictures and digitized video clips along with written information. A review quiz was used to help reinforce the learned information.
The second module was devoted to the concept of the “dry lab”. This module presented students with relevant information regarding the chemical concepts and then showed them the outcome of mixing solutions. By these observations, they were to determine the composition of unknown solutions based on provided descriptions and comparison with their written observations.
The third piece of the software designed was a computer game. This program followed the first two modules in providing information the students were to learn. The difference here, though, was incorporating a game scenario for students to use to help reinforce the learning. Students were then assessed to see how much information they retained after playing the game.
In each of the three cases, a control group exposed to the traditional lecture format was used. Their results were compared to the experimental group using the computer modules. Based upon the findings, it can be concluded that using technology to aid in the instructional process is definitely of benefit and students were more successful in learning. It is important to note, though, that one single type of instructional method is not the best way to inspire learning. It seems multiple methods provide the best educational experience for all.
Allred, B.R.T. The use of computer-aided learning in chemistry laboratory instruction. Ph.D. thesis, University of Louisville.
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