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The Chemical Educator

ISSN: 1430-4171 (electronic version)

Table of Contents

Abstract Volume 18 (2013) pp 173-178
DOI 10.1007/s00897132498

A Case Study Exploring How Graduate Students Instruct Inquiry-Based Labs

Kimberly J. Smith* and Patricia A. Metz

Glendale Community College, 6000 West Olive Avenue, Glendale, AZ 85302,; Johns Hopkins University, McAuley Hall, 5801 Smith Ave, Suite 400, Baltimore, MD 21209
Received August 1, 2011. Accepted May 18, 2013.

Published: 5 July 2013

Abstract. Continuing concern regarding the undergraduate chemistry laboratory curriculum has prompted research of alternative lab activities to the traditional verification experiments. Inquiry based activities have been reported to improve student understanding, however many large universities have not changed their lab courses in decades. In such institutions the graduate students instruct many of the general chemistry lab courses. This study was implemented at a large university in which six out of nineteen first semester general chemistry labs substituted their traditional one-week verification experiments for inquiry-based labs which utilized cooperative learning strategies to teach problem-solving ability, higher cognitive thinking, chemistry content and social skills. The study was evaluated by qualitative methods through examination of the students, the graduate teaching assistants, and all artifacts. This paper focuses on the findings with respect to the graduate teaching assistants and how their interactions with students, attitudes towards inquiry learning, and educational philosophies evolved during the semester.

Key Words: Laboratories and Demonstrations; general chemistry

(*) Corresponding author. (E-mail:

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