Chemistry Laboratory Activities: The Link between Practice and Theory

By Michael Skoumios and Nicolaos Passalis.

Published by The Learner Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

A fundamental purpose of practical work, in the teaching and learning of science content, is to help students make links between the real world of objects, materials and events, and the abstract world of thought and ideas. This study aims at investigating the relationships between practice (contexts of labwork) and theory (chemistry verbalized knowledge) during laboratory activities. Data were extracted from videotapes taken during chemistry labwork with “high performing” high school students’ groups. The analysis used the category-based analysis of videotapes method (CBAV) based on the work of Niedderer, Tiberghien, Buty, Haller, Hucke, Sander, Fischer, Schecker, Aufschnaiter and Welzel. This method analyses the effectiveness of labwork by determining time budgets in different lab contexts (such as working with the labguide, using paper and pencil, manipulating apparatus, taking measurements), as well as of knowledge verbalization (such as chemistry knowledge or technical knowledge). The results of the analysis allowed for: (a) mapping the time that the students’ groups are devoted working within the different contexts and the different kind of knowledge verbalization during labwork and (b) investigating the contribution of different contexts of labwork to the amount of students’ verbalisations of knowledge of chemistry. The study concludes with a discussion and recommendations for future research.

Keywords: Practical Work, Labwork Contexts, Verbal Knowledge, Laboratory Activities, School Science, Chemistry Education

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 17, Issue 6, pp.101-114. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 673.367KB).

Dr. Michael Skoumios

Lecturer, University of Aegean, Rhodes, Rhodes, Greece

Dr. Michael Skoumios obtained a first degree in Physics from the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens in 1987, a second degree in Education from the University of Aegean in 1992 and his PhD in Science Education from the Hellenic Open University in 2005. His research interests include science concept learning and teaching science in primary and secondary schools. He is currently teaching Science Education in the Department of Primary Education of the University of the Aegean (Greece).

Nicolaos Passalis

Teacher, Upper Secondary Education, Rhodes, Rhodes, Greece

Mr. Nicolaos Passalis graduated from the Chemistry Department at the University of Athens in 1974 and received his MSc. Degree in 1978 from the Chemistry Department at the Salford University (UK). Since 1982 is teaching Chemistry in the public secondary education in Greece. He is currently director of a district school science lab with the aim of promoting the integration of lab activities in science teaching.


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