Institute for Academic Development
Institute for Academic Development

Pre-laboratory peer assessed skills in inorganic chemistry

Pre-laboratory peer assessed skills in inorganic chemistry and PRELAB-e (Pre-laboratory e-resources to enable student preparation of practical work)

Team Members:  Stephen Moggach, Dusan Uhrin, James Pankhurst, Adam Michalchuk, Scott Moonie, Michael Seery


Background: Two small projects combine in this PTAS research :

Firstly, we aim to develop an innovative mechanism for engaging students with Inorganic chemistry laboratory’s prior-to entering the laboratory.  At the moment, pre-laboratory exercises involve simply the marking of a set of pre-set questions based on the theory behind the laboratory experiment that the student will perform in the following week, and fails to fully prepare the students with the practical assessment of their work.

In this initiative, we will use these exercises to both better prepare and engage students with the laboratory exercises, which will be achieved in several ways: (i) they will engage with exemplar videos to prepare for their demonstration; (ii) they will be tested on this and marked during the laboratory, including aspects of theory and safe working practices; (iii) students will be videoed by a peer with a phone, and then asked to assess a peers video.  The idea here is not to focus just on marking and assessment, but encouraging good working practice, teaching the students about self-assessment whilst better preparing them for the laboratory.  Students will be awarded with a digital badge for completion of the skill, which they can showcase in their online portfolio.

The project will be evaluated by considering asking student pre-and post-activity questions, examining student videos after the technique, and asking students to rate their confidence on completing techniques before and after the activity.        

Secondly, whilst considering and working with the above the following part is also considered :

Aims: This project will develop six pre-laboratory resources to introduce students to their Year 3 physical chemistry labs. These labs are traditionally difficult for students, as they require a considerable theoretical understanding, as well as use of often quite complicated instrumentation. The pre-labs will introduce students to the underlying theory of the experiments, as well as highlight to them the meaning of data collected in the lab, and how they may use it. They will also be given prompts for reporting and analysis, so that the pre-labs, the lab work itself, and the assessment align.

Methodology: The project brings together all of the stakeholders in the laboratory: the academic laboratory organiser, post-graduate demonstrator, technician, and undergraduate student. Funding is to support the latter to work on the initiative over the summer. E-resources will be developed with the final co-applicant, who has experience in the area of technology enhanced learning and laboratory education.

The resources themselves will comprise of a combination of videos from the lab to relate theory to the experimental set-up, as well as explanatory detail. They will be packaged in an interactive webpage produced using Articulate Studio ’13, and students will be able to access them through Learn.

Final Project Report

Final project report may be downloaded here