5 tips to enhance your lab education

#1 Force students to prepare

3 out of 4 lab teachers indicate that their students are poorly prepared when they enter the lab (Verstege et al., 2016).   Provide students with interactive e-learning materials to prepare.   Make sure students get stuck if they did not prepare
(Biggs & Tang, 2014).

mascotte-thinking-shorter

#2 Activate students to make their own experimental design

Many lab classes are of the ‘cookbook’ type. Such lab classes do not trigger students to actively think about what they are doing (Domin, 1999).   Trigger students to engage in higher thinking levels, such as experimental

#3 Prevent unnecessary cognitive load

Students are typically overloaded with information during lab classes, which leads to less learning (Johnstone, 1997).   Provide relevant information just in time
(Merriënboer & Kirschner, 2018).   This can be done by using an interactive and electronic lab manual.

#4 Provide easy access to information

Only 3% of the student-teacher interactions during lab classes is about the content (Kozma, 2003). Students typically ask low-level questions such as: “Where can I find this?”   Make sure that students have easy and just-in-time access to the answers to all such low-level questions during the lab class.

#5 Try alternative assessment methods

Checking lab reports takes a lot of time.   Ask students to only write parts of a scientific report
(Verkade, 2015).  Assign students to check each other’s reports. Besides providing an extra opportunity for students to go through the content, the grades turn out to be almost identical compared to when a teacher would have done the grading (Harris, 2011).

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