Although most of these goals were derived from previous research on laboratory experiences and student learning, the committee identified the new goal of “understanding the complexity and ambiguity of empirical work” to reflect the unique nature of laboratory experiences.
Students’ direct encounters with natural phenomena in laboratory science courses are inherently more ambiguous and messy than the representations of these phenomena in science lectures, textbooks, and mathematical formulas (Millar, 2004).
Okay, this is the hardest part of the whole project…picking your topic. Even if you don’t like any, they may inspire you to come up with one of your own. Don’t worry…look over them again and see if they give you an idea for your own project that will work for you.
Remember, check all project ideas with your teacher and parents, and don’t do any project that would hurt or scare people or animals. Remember, find something that interests you, and have fun with it.
Students come to the classroom with conceptions of natural phenomena that are based on their everyday experiences in the world.
Although these conceptions are often reasonable and can provide satisfactory everyday explanations to students, they do not always match scientific explanations and break down in ways that students often fail to notice.Assuming that the study of the natural world requires opportunities to directly encounter that world, investigators are integrating laboratory experiences and other forms of instruction into instructional sequences in order to help students progress toward science learning goals.These studies draw on principles of learning derived from the rapid growth in knowledge from cognitive research to address the question of to design science instruction, including laboratory experiences, in order to support student learning.The research reviewed by the committee indicated that these curricula not only integrate laboratory experiences in the flow of science instruction, but also integrate student learning about both the concepts and processes of science.To reflect these aspects of the new approach, the committee settled on the term “integrated instructional units” in this report.This principle is based on research showing that effective instruction begins with what learners bring to the setting, including cultural practices and beliefs, as well as knowledge of academic content.Taking students’ preconceptions into account is particularly critical in science instruction.While these inventories of goals vary somewhat, a core set remains fairly consistent.Building on these commonly stated goals, the committee developed a comprehensive list of goals for or desired outcomes of laboratory experiences: There is a larger body of research on how students learn science that is not considered in depth here because the committee’s focus is science learning through laboratory experiences.The following sections briefly describe principles of learning derived from recent research in the cognitive sciences and their application in design of integrated instructional units.Recent research and development of integrated instructional units that incorporate laboratory experiences are based on a large and growing body of cognitive research.