Advancing science by enhancing learning in the laboratory (ASELL)
Kable, Scott, Buntine, Mark, Yeung, Alexandra, Sharma, Manjula, Lim, Kieran, Pyke, Simon, Burke da Silva, Karen and Barrie, Simon 2012, Advancing science by enhancing learning in the laboratory (ASELL) Office of Learning and Teaching, Australian Government Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, Sydney, N. S. W..
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Office of Learning and Teaching, Australian Government Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations
Place of Publication
Sydney, N. S. W.
Final report of the the Advancing Science by Enhancing Learning in the Laboratory (ASELL) project.
Most researchers agree that the laboratory experience ranks as a significant factor that influences students’ attitudes to their science courses. Consequently, good laboratory programs should play a major role in influencing student learning and performance. The laboratory program can be pivotal in defining a student's experience in the sciences, and if done poorly, can be a major contributing factor in causing disengagement from the subject area. The challenge remains to provide students with laboratory activities that are relevant, engaging and offer effective learning opportunities.
The Advancing Science by Enhancing Learning in the Laboratory (ASELL) project has developed over the last 10 years with the aim of improving the quality of learning in undergraduate laboratories, providing a validated means of evaluating and improving the laboratory experience of students, and effective professional development for academic staff. After successful development in chemistry and trials using the developed principles in physics and biology, the project, with ALTC funding, has now expanded to include those disciplines.
The launching pad for ASELL was a multidisciplinary workshop held in Adelaide in April, 2010. This workshop involved 100 academics and students, plus 13 Deans of Science (or delegates), covering the three enabling sciences of biology, chemistry and physics. Thirty-nine undergraduate experiments were trialled over the three days of the workshop. More importantly, professional development in laboratory education was developed in the 42 academic staff that attended the workshop.
Following the workshop, delegates continued to evaluate, develop and improve both individual experiments and whole laboratory programs in their home institutions, mentored by the ASELL Team. Some highlights include: - more than 15,000 student surveys carried out by delegates during 2010/11 - 10 whole lab programs were surveyed by delegates - 4 new ASELL-style workshops, conducted by ASELL-trained delegates were run in 2010/11 - more than 100 ASELL-tested experiments available on the website (www.asell.org) - ASELL workshops conducted in Philippines, Ireland in 2010, and planned in the USA and Thailand for 2011 - significant improvement in student evaluation of whole laboratory programs and individual experiments measured in universities using the ASELL approach - high profile of ASELL activities in the Australian Council of Deans of Science (ACDS) - research project on the misconceptions of academic staff about laboratory learning completed - significant research on student learning in the laboratory, and staff perceptions of student learning have been carried out during 2010/11 - research results have been benchmarked against staff and students in the USA.
The biggest unresolved issue for ASELL is one of sustainability in the post-ALTC funding era. ASELL will make a series of recommendations to the ACDS, but the future of the program depends, to a large part, on how the ACDS responds.
Support for the original work was provided by the Australian Learning and Teaching Council Ltd, an initiative of the Australian Government Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.
Field of Research
130309 Learning Sciences 130212 Science, Technology and Engineering Curriculum and Pedagogy 130103 Higher Education
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