RSC PPT Template Blue and White

A practical approach to the
Dr Catherine Smith
RSC School Teacher Fellow 2011-2012
Science AST, John Cleveland College, Hinckley, Leicestershire
The challenge
Review of Student Learning Experience in Chemistry 2008
The Higher Education Academy, Physical Sciences Centre
‘Students often arrive with poor practical skills because of their limited use of
laboratory equipment, or the tendency of schools to rely on demonstrations.
The weakness in problem-solving ability probably stems from the difference in
teaching methods between schools and universities. Directors of Teaching
comment that universities expect independent learners whereas at schools
students are teacher-led.’
The challenge
91% can use a burette
with no help
80% would find it easy to
calculate a solution’s
86% would find it easy to
use a pipette to accurately
measure a known volume
and yet…….
We can certainly see not much familiarity with titration for our first year students!!
Results of sampling 518 first year undergraduate students
(from the Universities of Leicester, Liverpool, Loughborough, Newcastle, Northumbria,
Nottingham, Sheffield, Southampton, UCL and Imperial College)
The challenge
Review by The Gatsby Charitable Foundation
Perceptions of science staff in the 15 Russell group universities in England regarding the
standard of laboratory skills possessed by new undergraduate students;
“They find it difficult to diagnose and think through problems and are quick to
blame equipment rather than their own technique”
“They can’t apply these tools and these skills outside the narrow environment in
which they were taught”
House of Commons, Science and Technology Committee, May 2011
Practical experiments in school science lessons and science field trips (HC1060-11)
The challenge
How often in school practical experiments did you?
Most times
Results of sampling 518 first year undergraduate students
(from the Universities of Leicester, Liverpool, Loughborough, Newcastle, Northumbria,
Nottingham, Sheffield, Southampton, UCL and Imperial College)
The answer?
• Improvements in
science education
should be brought
about through the
introduction of inquirybased approaches in
Education NOW
Expertise from
• Problem based
approach to learning
• The importance of
pre-lab exercises
• Kelly and Finlayson,
Dublin City University
• Seery et al., Dublin
Institute of
A problem based approach
Science Education NOW: A Renewed Pedagogy for the Future of Europe, European Commission
Directorate-General for Research, Science, Economy and Society, EUR 22845, 2007.
Kelly O.C. and Finlayson O. E., (2007), Providing solutions through problem-based learning for the
undergraduate 1st year chemistry laboratory, Chem. Educ. Res. Pract., 8, 347-361
Mc Donnell C., O’Connor C. and Seery M. K., (2007), Developing practical chemistry skills by means of
student-driven problem based learning mini-projects, Chem. Educ. Res. Pract., 8, 130-139
A dentist writes to the students asking them for advice as to which of three drinks;
lemonade, orange juice or white wine he should recommend to his patients to
minimise acid erosion of tooth enamel
• How can I measure acid concentration?
• What is the acid in the drinks?
• Which base do I need?
• Which indicator should I use?
• What concentration of base do I need?
The problem based practical activities
Independent study skills
Research skills
Team working
Practical skills
Scientific writing
Pre-lab questions given for
Lessons 1+2 – Students work in
groups of 3 to solve the practical
For homework, students work
collaboratively to produce a
single final report
The problem based practical activities
Problem 1 – Carbonate rocks
Curriculum links; Stoichiometry
Practical skills; Top pan balance, accuracy
Problem 2 – A little gas
Curriculum links; Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution, ideal gases
Practical skills; Excel spreadsheets, y = mx + c graph plotting and analysis
Problem 3 - Cleaning Solutions
Curriculum links; Redox, halogens, bleach
Practical skills; Reacting masses, gas volumes
Problem 4 - Alcohol detective
Curriculum links; Organic nomenclature, alcohols
Practical skills; Distillation, alcohol tests
Problem 5 - Coursework conundrum
Curriculum links; Oxidation of alcohols, carboxylic acids
Practical skills; Recrystallisation, TLC
The problem based practical activities
Problem 6 - Acid erosion
Curriculum links; Strong and weak acids, pH curves, indicators
Practical skills; Titration
Problem 7 – Iodination Inquiry
Curriculum links; Rates of reactions, rate determining steps
Practical skills; Clock reactions
Problem 8 - Compound confusion
Curriculum links; Analytical methods
Practical skills; Melting point, spectral analysis
Problem 9 - Cool drinking
Curriculum links; Enthalpy of solution, Hess’s cycles
Practical skills; Calorimetry, graph plotting
Problem 10 - Patient prognosis
Curriculum links; TM complexes
Practical skills; Colorimetry, GC analysis, dilution
With thanks to
Aysha Bhatti and George Marshall
University of Leicester
Deborah Tedstone, Science Technician