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The Chemical Educator

ISSN: 1430-4171 (electronic version)

Table of Contents

Abstract Volume 15 (2010) pp 79-89

Assessment of Organic Inquiry-Based Laboratory Experiences Targeting Different Learning Styles: Ethnographic Study

David Sanabria-Ríos* and Ingrid Montes

Department of Chemistry, University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus, San Juan, PR, 00931,
Received July 31, 2007. Accepted October 15, 2008.

Published: 27 January 2010

Abstract. Many controlled studies have explored the effects of improvements in the teaching-learning process of non-expository laboratory experiences, such as open-inquiry, guided-inquiry and problem-based laboratory experiences. It is well documented that these experiences promote the development of higher-order cognitive skills. However, ethnographic studies related to how newly designed inquiry-based experiments that address different learning styles affect the teaching-learning process have not been reported to date. Our hypothesis is that inquiry-based laboratory experiences that address different learning styles positively affect the teaching-learning process in the organic chemistry laboratory course. Our ethnographic study looks at how students with different learning styles respond to this type of laboratory experience. Due to the limitation of not having a control group, an ethnographic framework was selected to conduct a qualitative study. The study includes different qualitative data collection methods to generate results that have internal and external validity, with triangulation as a cross-validation method. Triangulation correlates qualitative data, such as critical comparative essays, scores in exams/quizzes, one-minute papers and field notes. A general analysis of how students’ learning styles affect their achievement in the organic chemistry laboratory course and the teaching-learning process was performed.

Key Words: In the Classroom; organic chemistry

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