Encouraging Independent Thought and Learning in First Year Practical Classes

Philippa Cranwell, Fred Davis, Joanne Elliott, John McKendrick, Elizabeth Page, Mark Spillman


The transition from A-level to degree-level practical classes then to a research project, hence from dependent learner to independent researcher, is a hurdle that all students face when studying for a chemistry degree. This can be daunting so any innovations that aid this transition are of great value. At the University of Reading, the first year practical course has been redesigned to facilitate this transition by embedding independent thought and experimentation across all chemistry disciplines (introductory, organic, inorganic and physical). Examples of experiments that provide opportunities for independent student investigation, along with student perceptions of the experiments of the course, are given. Using this model for practical-class delivery, student engagement, confidence, independence and ultimately preparedness for year 2 were improved.  

Keywords: Practical Classes; First year; Transition; Open-Ended Investigation


Practical Classes; First year; Transition; Open-Ended Investigation

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