Preparing Demonstrators for First Year Science Laboratories

Mauro Mocerino, Shelley Yeo, Marjan Zadnik

Abstract


The laboratory class is a unique learning environment with the potential to achieve a number of theoretical and practical learning objectives. Consequently, the demands on students are also great. They must not only learn manipulative and experimental techniques, but also link theory to practice, problem-solve, interpret data, interact with staff and other students, and successfully navigate the lab itself. Learning in this situation can be greatly assisted by an instructor who is able to guide students through this complex of practical, cognitive and affective issues.1,2 Frequently though, these laboratory sessions are taught by some of the least experienced members of the teaching staff. In the Department of Applied Chemistry at Curtin, we prepare our demonstrators by using a four stage process: (i) a full day workshop on teaching in labs, (ii) a half day safety and laboratory induction, (iii) use of a demonstrators' preparation sheet and (iv) weekly group meetings. Details of these activities will be provided in this paper.

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