What makes a good laboratory learning exercise?

student feedback from the ACELL project

A. V. George*, J. R. Read, S. C. Barrie, R. B. Bucat, M. A. Buntine, G. T. Crisp, I. M. Jamie, S. H. Kable

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding contribution


Over the last 7 years, a group of Australian universities have been collaboratively running a chemistry education project, now called ACELL (Advancing Chemistry by Enhanced Learning in the Laboratory). One of the key aims of ACELL is to facilitate the development and evaluation of educationally sound chemistry laboratory exercises with the goal of improving the quality of students' learning in the laboratory in Australia, New Zealand, and throughout the world. As part of this project, ACELL has developed an instrument for investigating students' perceptions of their laboratory learning experiences. To date, ACELL had collected data on 19 experiments from 972 students across 7 universities in Australia and New Zealand using this instrument, and this data collection is ongoing. As a consequence, ACELL is in an unusually good position to identify and discuss both procedural and cognitive factors that influence students' evaluation of their laboratory learning experiences, such as assessment, the quality of notes, interest, and the inclusion of opportunities for independent learning. Our results are both surprising and encouraging, and indicate that students can be highly cognitively engaged, even with traditionally "boring" content, provided a suitable learning environment is established. This paper will describe the research approach undertaken, discuss the range of factors which appear to significantly influence students' learning experiences, and consider the implications for the design of educationally sound chemistry laboratory exercises.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationChemistry education in the ICT age
EditorsMinu Gupta-Bhowon, Sabina Jhaumeer-Laulloo, Henri Li Kam Wah, Ponnadurai Ramasami
Place of PublicationBerlin
PublisherSpringer, Springer Nature
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9781402097324
ISBN (Print)9781402097317
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Event20th International Conference on Chemical Education - Pointe aux Piments, Mauritius
Duration: 3 Aug 20088 Aug 2008


Conference20th International Conference on Chemical Education
CityPointe aux Piments


  • WORK
  • Carrick Award for Australian University Teaching - Citation for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning

    Ian Jamie (Recipient), Mark A. Buntine (Recipient), Scott H. Kable (Recipient), Justin R. Read (Recipient) & Simon C. Barrie (Recipient), 2007


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