Perceptions and Misconceptions about the Undergraduate Laboratory from Chemistry, Physics and Biology Academics

Mark Anthony Buntine, Karen Burke da Silva, Scott Kable, Kieran Lim, Simon Pyke, Justin Read, Manjula Sharma, Alexandra Yeung


The undergraduate laboratory occupies a large fraction of science students’ time. Over 3000 students were asked to rate their laboratory learning experience using 12 metrics. 362 academics were asked to predict which of these 12 aspects of the student experience would correlate with the overall laboratory learning experience. Responses from academics in biology, chemistry and physics departments, and from the USA and Australia, are statistically the same. However, the correlation between these staff predictions and student results is poor. The student results are consistent with extant educational research, but it appears that these findings are not reaching those who are responsible for developing undergraduate laboratory courses. There is a great need for educational research to be made more accessible for academics who are trained in scientific, but not in educational research.