The central goal of this exploratory study was to characterize the effects of experiments involving different levels of inquiry on the nature of college students' written reflections about laboratory work. Data were collected in the form of individual lab reports written using a science writing heuristic template by a subset of the students enrolled in the first and second semester of general chemistry at a research-intensive university. Our findings indicate that the level of inquiry of the experiments seems to affect three main areas of students' reflections: knowledge, evaluation, and improvements. In the case of knowledge, our findings were particularly interesting as higher levels of inquiry were associated with a smaller proportion of reflective statements in this area. However, these types of reflections shifted from mostly focusing on factual knowledge to largely concentrating on procedural knowledge and metacognitive knowledge. In general, our results elicit trends and highlight issues that can help instructors and curriculum developers identify strategies to better support and scaffold student thinking in different learning environments.
- Chemical Education Research
- First-Year Undergraduate/General
- Inquiry-Based/Discovery Learning
- Student-Centered Learning
ASJC Scopus subject areas