Implementation of a general chemistry discovery laboratory course in a larger university setting: A qualitative case study
Smith, Kimberly Jo
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Traditional verification experiments are the overwhelming choice for teaching the general chemistry laboratory courses at large universities. Discontent with these cookbook laboratories has caused some chemistry educators to look for alternatives. Discovery laboratories have existed for decades and yet have not gained popularity in large university settings. This qualitative case study examines the project laboratory course, a discovery lab, taught in the first semester general chemistry program at a large university. The project lab utilizes cooperative learning strategies to teach social skills, problemsolving ability, higher cognitive thinking, and chemistry content. Three long, multi-faceted experiments, named projects, are conducted over a thirteen week period by the students in cooperative groups. The course is described in detail and is evaluated through examination of the projects, the instructors, the students, and their reactions to the course. Recommendations for successful full scale implementation are given.