Education

Follow scientists, not the lab notebook

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Science  21 Nov 2014:
Vol. 346, Issue 6212, pp. 961
DOI: 10.1126/science.346.6212.961-g

Scientific experiments rarely go as planned. Despite following the scientific method, experiments often double back, repeat a step, or move in a new direction. Why then, do classroom laboratory exercises present students with a linear set of tasks resulting in a known outcome? To create a more authentic experience, Alaimo et al. redesigned four undergraduate organic chemistry labs to allow students to generate reliable data through repeating experiments, participate in authentic data analysis, and receive instruction in data-driven decision-making. These changes shifted the lab from an exercise in following directions to an exercise of learning the iterative process of a scientific study.

J. Chem. Educ. 10.1021/ed400510b (2014).

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