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Collaborative learning experience in a freshman materials laboratory exercise

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1 Author(s)
Williams, J.R. ; Purdue Univ., West Lafayette, IN, USA

Freshmen students are often treated as incapable of operating without carefully detailed instructions for many types of laboratory experiences. At Purdue-Kokomo, six different laboratory exercises are provided for our freshmen taking the initial course in Materials and Processing, MET 141. In the past, detailed written laboratory instructions were provided, spelling out exactly how to make the necessary measurements, how to use the equipment, how to convert measurements to the appropriate units, how to define the terms, etc. Almost a full hour was devoted to demonstrating how to use the equipment. Each lab group was visited to see the correct procedures were being used. For the Fall, 1994, semester this author decided to change to a style that includes the concept of self-directed work teams, using team building techniques where possible to enable students who are not well acquainted with each other and from varied backgrounds to work together as a team to solve the laboratory problem. Each group is required to turn in a group lab report for the first lab exercise, with individual reports for the remaining labs. This method allows for the collaborative experience to occur. The instructor arbitrarily selects a leader and the other team members. Selection criteria are arbitrary with an effort to balance each group. Each group is given a separate sample set and a set of equipment necessary to perform the lab. The instructor and technician then maintain a hands-off policy until asked questions by the lab groups. Assistance is provided when asked with respect to verifying measurements, etc., but, the students are required to ask questions that can be answered either “yes” or “no” when trying to determine why results do not seem to be correct. The results of this approach were very encouraging, resulting in better quality laboratory reports, and a clearer understanding of the use of measurement equipment

Published in:

Frontiers in Education Conference, 1995. Proceedings., 1995  (Volume:1 )

Date of Conference:

1-4 Nov 1995