Wednesday, November 25, 2009

ACU > Chemistry Labs, Classes Combine Science With Mobile Learning

Cynthia Powell, a Mobile-Learning Fellow at ACU, conducted a controlled study investigating the impact of modifying the primary mode of instruction in a laboratory course.

"A very important movement in science education is the inclusion of inquiry-based experiments," says Cynthia Powell, instructor of chemistry and biochemistry. "Inquiry-based experiments require students to plan and execute their own experiments. And a lot of research has shown that this type of experiment helps students understand and learn material a lot more effectively.

"The problem is, students coming into a laboratory very often don't have the supporting skills they need to plan a rigorous experiment. So this semester, we prepared podcasts that could be used as scaffolding tools or support tools for our students," she says. "This would allow students to access information on how to do a particular procedure, or to use a particular technique or type of equipment, and independently access the information they needed to plan their own experiment."

Powell and her teaching assistants monitored both the students who had access to the podcasts and the students who did not. The results were clear: Students who had access to the podcasts on their iPhones needed much less assistance from Powell or the TAs than the students who didn't have access to the podcasts.


"We feel like this is critical," Powell says. "As scientists, our students need to be learning how to collect and gather data on their own, and this is an important way that we can help our students on this path toward independence."



See Also

Using iPhones In The General Chemistry Laboratory / Cynthia B. Powell, Diana Mason


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