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April 19 2012 5 19 /04 /April /2012 18:51

I have finished my second semester of general chemistry labs. I have had a generally positive experience with them academically, although there is some to be desired scientifically. Here is my opinion on ways to improve the chemistry labs in general chemistry.

 

1) There should be more questions on the lab reports that make students do some research about chemistry. This should not be inevery question, but once in a while, there should be an unknown result which will have to be researched. Also, the practical aspects of the labs and their use in a real-life setting can be mentioned, to help connect the student's learning to their career (if they are planning on a chemistry-related career).

 

2) Providing problems which will have to be solved by existing chemistry knowledge will help students apply all that they have learned about chemistry to synthesize a solution or a compound, for instance.

 

3) Do not do all of the preparation work for the students. Allow them to make their own solutions, fill their own burets, etc. This will help enforce the basic concepts such as molarity and molality much more than having everything done already. Maybe even leave some leeway in the instructions instead of providing a point-by-point process that can be followed without thinking or learning.

 

4) Perform some interesting and some perplexing demonstrations occasionally to get students interested in the course more.

 

5) Lab write-ups should be more thorough for those labs which are more complex. Obviously, there is not much to write about in a titration lab, for example, but other labs will benefit from a longer write-up.

 

Here are some things that are already good in the labs.

 

1) The labs are not too long, which helps the student to keep the goal in mind.

 

2) The instructors were very helpful and ready to fix any problems that the students might have.

 

3) Some of the experiments were quite thought-provoking for me as they did not produce the expected result or the results were just plain interested (mercury amide is just a weird and interesting-sounding compound).

 

I may expand this later.

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Published by LanthanumK - in Experiments
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