Inquiry-Based Chemistry Lab Exercises
Places To Visit ( one of the following:)
What is Inquiry Based Learning/Teaching?
Inquiry Based Learning is a student-centered instructional method that is based
on substantially increased student involvement in the learning process. It
incorporates interdisciplinary study, critical thinking skills, and structured
research considering the studentâs individual learning style to produce a
student-generated model of a given concept, process, or knowledge base.
focuses students' inquiry on questions that are challenging, debatable, and
difficult to solve
teaches students specific procedures, strategies, or processes that are
essential to problem solving
teaches thinking and problem solving skills
expects students to apply concepts to new situations
structures lessons to include opportunities for students to access information
that is crucial to the inquiry
structures lessons so that students have opportunities to work with peers
sequences a series of activities and lessons so that they work together in
moving students toward a general goal
builds into lessons the opportunities for performance
involves students in the process of deriving standards for performance
expects students to figure out patterns
expects students to take responsibility for personal learning
relies on authentic assessment of learning (Modified from discussion at
How I got involved in Inquiry Based Chemistry Labs?
After using "Cookbook" labs for many years I came to the conclusion
that they were not very effective in developing a lasting interest in science.
Students hurried through their lab exercises without much enthusiasm, produced
mediocre lab reports and didn't remember much about individual labs or lab methods.
A few years ago, an announcement for a potentially interesting workshop came across
my desk. It was called "Developing Industrial Problem Solving Materials for
the Classroom" or "How to create inquiry-based lab experiments drawn
from case studies of the chemical industry." The workshop was offered by
PACT (Partnership for the Advancement of Chemical Technology) at Miani University,
I participated in the workshop, found it most interesting and started
switching many of my "cookbook" labs to inquiry based labs. Many of my
new lab exercises are scenario based, with scenarios drawn from consumer issues,
environmental problems, or from forensic science.
Although it took me quite a bit of time to change my labs, the student reactions
were worth it. They show greater enthusiasm and many are often staying in lab
longer trying to answer some related question that they want to check out. The
quality of lab reports has improved considerably. I believe that initially this
approach was more difficult for my students. From questionnaires, I can conclude
that most students find inquiry-based labs more challenging (i.e. more difficult)
but more interesting and more fun. A very small number of students don't like
these labs and would prefer to go back to the "cookbook" labs.
Popcorn Quality Control Lab
The Case of the Drowned Businessman: Analysis of
Phosphate in Water
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This page was created by Peter Jeschofnig and was last updated: March 7, 2003