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The Chemical Educator

ISSN: 1430-4171 (electronic version)

Table of Contents

Abstract Volume 19 (2014) pp 198-204

Using Microprocessor Based Laboratories to Enhance Chemistry Lectures

David P. Schuster

D’Youville College, Department of Math and Natural Sciences, 320 Porter Ave, Buffalo, NY, 14201,
Received February 10, 2014. Accepted March 20, 2014.

Published: 27 June 2014

Abstract. Access to a laboratory for science education exposes students to tools which enable them to reinforce critical concepts, develop skills in graphical analysis, and apply mathematics to problem solving. Some students enter college level chemistry classes who have had very little exposure to the experimental nature of science discovery, which could manifest as an inability to be successful in their course work. Furthermore, chemistry courses required in a particular curriculum may be offered without a concurrent laboratory component, potentially exacerbating a difficult situation. An attempt to address these shortcomings was made by incorporating short, microprocessor based laboratories into a lecture format of a 3 credit hour chemistry class offered with no concurrent laboratory. The course is required for students in the exercise and nutrition science program. The laboratory demonstrations were short (~5 minutes) so as to not take away from lecture time, and were chosen to illustrate concepts that were traditionally difficult for students to grasp. Demonstrations were performed and graphed in real time, and the graphs were projected via a USB port on a standard computer projection system. The graphs were analyzed during the lecture to illustrate concepts and/or calculations, and subsequently distributed to students as pdf files. A post hoc analysis of test scores indicated that weakest students entering the course improved their grade by 13.8% (p = 0.02) when the lecture incorporated MBL demonstrations. Several demonstrations are presented here that can be performed simply and inexpensively in a classroom.

Key Words: Laboratories and Demonstrations; general chemistry

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