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Abstract Title: The role of design in labs
Abstract: This session will focus on the implementation and assessment of design-based laboratory activities. The speakers will describe their approaches to creating a design-based laboratory experience, and each talk will focus on a different element of the lab, such as student affect, scaffolding of lab skills, assessment and self-assessment, and long-term learning gains. Each of these elements are crucial in creating a productive and positive experience for the student. The talks will be followed by a discussion in which the audience is invited to participate.
Abstract Type: Parallel session: Talk Symposium

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Katerina Visnjic
Princeton University
NJ 08540

Symposium Specific Information

Moderator: Katerina Visnjic
Presentation 1 Title: Designing a lab course from the perspective of flow theory
Presentation 1 Authors: Anna Karelina, California State university, East Bay
Presentation 1 Abstract: Creating an inquiry-based lab course, where students design their own experiments, can be a challenging task. It requires a delicate balance between difficulty of tasks and students skills and abilities. Here we describe an attempt of using the flow theory[1] for converting traditional lab course into ISLE design labs. We analyze students' feedback and revise the course within the flow theory framework. It appears to be a powerful tool for decreasing frustration often associated with open-ended labs, and for improving students attitude towards the labs. This method allows us to create an environment where students consider designing an experiment as a challenging but exciting activity.
[1] Csíkszentmihályi, Mihály (1990), Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, New York: Harper and Row
Presentation 2 Title: A Holistic Approach to Reforming Lab-Based Curricula in Cornell University's Materials Science and Engineering Department
Presentation 2 Authors: Julie Nucci, Cornell University
Presentation 2 Abstract: Core Materials Science and Engineering courses at Cornell contain a laboratory component starting in the sophomore year. This intensifies in junior year, where the laboratory component associated with four core junior year courses is consolidated in a two-semester Junior Lab course. Seniors choose between Senior Thesis or Senior Lab. Within the past few years, the department has begun taking a holistic approach to laboratory curriculum by working towards scaffolding lab skill development across the undergraduate curriculum. This talk will overview these measures and focus on the current effort to transform the Junior Lab course from a set of disconnected labs to a series of activities through which students hone their skills for conducting experiments, thoughtfully analyzing data, performing error analyses, and writing high quality lab reports. Finally, the transformation of Senior Lab into a team-based, authentic research experience will be briefly presented.
Presentation 3 Title: Using Students' Design Tasks to Develop Scientific Abilities
Presentation 3 Authors: Xueli Zou, California State University, Chico
Presentation 3 Abstract: To help students develop the scientific abilities desired in the 21st century workplace, four different types of student design tasks--observational, testing, application, and investigation experiments--have been developed and implemented in our calculus-based introductory courses. Students in small groups are engaged in designing and conducting their own experiments to observe some physical phenomena, test a physics principle, build a real-life device, solve a complex problem, or to conduct an open-inquiry investigation. This work was supported in part by NSF and in collaboration with the Physics and Astronomy Education Research Group at Rutgers University. In this talk, examples of the design tasks will be shown and assessment results of students' achievements will be reported.
Presentation 4 Title: How do self-assessment rubrics affect the quality of students' work in open-ended project labs?
Presentation 4 Authors: Gorazd Planinšic[a], Klemen Kelih[a], Nejc Davidovic[a], Eugenia Etkina[b]
[a] University of Ljubljana, Slovenia
[b] Rutgers University, New Jersey, USA
Presentation 4 Abstract: We have been running a "Project lab" course for first and second year physics majors for more than 12 years. The main goal of the course is to develop students' science competences and skills in situations that are close to working conditions of physicists. Students work in small groups on open-ended practical problems. Last year we decided to transform the course by adopting scientific abilities self-assessment rubrics[1] as a tool to help students improve specific steps in experimental design. I will describe a research project that we conducted to analyze the effects of this transformation. The research was carried out by pre-service physics teachers as a part of their professional preparation. In my talk I will present the design of the research and discuss the findings.
[1] Etkina E., et al. Using action research to improve learning and formative assessment to conduct research, Physical review special topics – PER, 5, 010109 (2009).
Presentation 5 Title: ISLE-inspired Design Laboratory Transformation at Princeton University: Year Two Results
Presentation 5 Authors: Katerina Visnjic[a], Evelyn Laffey[b], Catherine Riihimaki[b], Carolyn Sealfon[b]
[a] Dept. of Physics, Princeton University
[b] Council on Science and Technology, Princeton University
Presentation 5 Abstract: In an effort to enhance the traditional calculus-based introductory physics course at Princeton University, an Investigative Science Learning Environment[1] (ISLE) inspired lab transformation is underway. In its 2nd year, half of all 16 lab sections performed ISLE-inspired lab activities, while the remaining sections performed traditional lab activities. We strove for a random selection of students. To assess the effectiveness of the design labs, we conducted focus interviews of this year's students and continued interviewing last year's students. The primary questions are i) what are the long-term learning gains of the skills developed in design labs and ii) how is the lab experience of the students dependent on the instructor. We chose a variety of interviewees based on final first-semester grade, gender, and instructor. In this talk, we will describe in more detail the pedagogical approach used in the experimental sections and show results from the interviews.
[1] Etkina, E., and Van Heuvelen, A. Investigative Science Learning Environment – A Science Process Approach to Learning Physics (2007).