Characterizing the Experimental Procedure in Science Laboratories: A preliminary step towards students experimental design

Abstract : Many studies have stressed students' lack of understanding of experiments in laboratories. Some researchers suggest that if students design parts of, or entire experiments as part of an inquiry-based approach, it would overcome certain difficulties. Experimental design implies to write a procedure. The aim of this paper is to describe the characteristics of a procedure in science laboratories. As a starting point, this paper proposes a model in the form of a hierarchical task diagram that gives the general structure of any procedure. This model allows both analysing existing procedure and designing new inquiry-based approach. The obtained characteristics are further organized into criteria that can help both teachers and students assess a procedure during and after its writing. These results were attained through two different sets of data. First, the characteristics of procedures were established by analysing laboratory manuals. This allowed defining the organization and type of information in procedures in educational context. This analysis revealed that students are seldom asked to write a full procedure, but sometimes have to specify tasks within the procedure. Secondly, iterative interviews were undertaken with teachers. This led to the list of criteria to evaluate the procedure.
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International Journal of Science Education, Taylor & Francis (Routledge), 2012, 34 (6), pp.825-854. 〈10.1080/09500693.2011.569901〉
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Isabelle Girault, Cedric D'Ham, Muriel Ney, Eric Sanchez, Claire Wajeman. Characterizing the Experimental Procedure in Science Laboratories: A preliminary step towards students experimental design. International Journal of Science Education, Taylor & Francis (Routledge), 2012, 34 (6), pp.825-854. 〈10.1080/09500693.2011.569901〉. 〈hal-00704668〉

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