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The Chemical Educator

ISSN: 1430-4171 (electronic version)

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Abstract Volume 10 Issue 2 (2005) pp 154-162

Instruments to Drive Effective Constructivist Laboratory Teaching

Janet Bond-Robinson* and Romola A. Bernard Rodriques

Department of Chemistry, 1251 Wescoe Hall Drive, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS 66045;
Received October 13, 2004. February 22, 2005.

Published online: 17 March 2005

Abstract. In our implementation of a graduate teaching assistant (GTA) course, two instruments were built to drive and assess constructivist laboratory teaching by GTAs. Due to the advent of remotely acquired audio-video observations using the local area network (LAN), research investigations of laboratories became easier, produced higher quality data, and were less distracting to laboratory workers. We coached each GTA by analyzing videotaped observations of 2 to 4 hours of teaching a laboratory section. The instructor coding of the TA teaching (ITAT) instrument formed the basis for assessing frequency and quality of GTAs’ interactions with students. The undergraduate students (UG) assessed their TA using the UGATA at semester’s end. We discuss how we established content and constructed validity. Data reduction from a factor analysis decreased the strategic constructs to two underlying and independent factors, which we defined as actions requiring chemical knowledge and mentoring. The reliabilities of the instructors’ and UGs’ instrument reached a high Cronbach alpha of 0.86 and 0.95, respectively, in the 4th course iteration. The final forms of the ITAT and UGATA instruments are shown.

Key Words: Research in Teaching and Learning; general chemistry

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Issue date: April, 1 2005

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