INFLUENCE OF DISTANCE LEARNING ON CHEMISTRY LABORATORY WORK.
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY.
Experimentation is obviously central to
scientific investigation, but what compelling reasons are there for
students to perform experiments, particularly the textbook laboratory
exercise in which the results are already well known? There are two main
elements to an experiment: its design and analysis of the data. But no
experiment can be performed without error, so one must determine with
what degree of certainty the data supports a particular hypothesis.
Coming to terms with the inaccuracy and imprecision of results requires
knowledge of the interplay between experimental design and data
analysis. Some laboratory skills, such as the statistical analysis of
data, can be learned in the abstract outside of the laboratory.
Experimental design, however, can only be learned from using real
equipment in real experiments, often through a certain amount of trial
Distance education attempts to achieve
traditional educational goals with the added challenge of connecting the
instructor and student by some delivery technology. There is general
agreement on the fundamental role of the laboratory component in any
first year general chemistry course in a Bachelor of Science program.
The exact form or nature of the laboratory experience, however, has been
the subject of much debate in the literature (Bennett, Seery, &
Sovegjarto-Wigbers, 2009; Buntine et al., 2007; Domin, 1999; Elliott,
Stewart, & Lagowski, 2008; Pickering, 1993; Reid & Shah, 2007;
Talanquer, 2012). Reid and Shah (2007) presented a general set of goals
that chemistry laboratory experiences should include, such as making
chemistry real to the student, allowing the student to learn practical
and scientific skills, and developing general skills such as problem
solving ability. When a general chemistry course is being delivered to a
distance student, a key question is how to provide this student with
the laboratory portion of the course to accomplish the desired learning
Many educational institutions have
tackled this problem by requiring distance students to attend on-campus
laboratory courses offered on weekends or in a multi-day block (Lyall
& Patti, 2010). Expecting a distance student to attend a physical
lab course during a narrow and intensive time-frame eliminates the main
advantage of distance education, namely flexibility. Another solution is
offering distance chemistry students the opportunity to complete the
laboratory component of the course from home using home experiment kits.
Several academic institutions have adopted this approach by
successfully developing and offering these laboratory experiences for
their distance general chemistry students in B.Sc. programs (Casanova,
Civelli, Kimbrough, Heath, & Reeves, 2006; Jeshofnig &
Jeshofnig, 2011; Kennepohl, 2007; Lyall & Patti, 2010). Removing
students from the “traditional” laboratory setting typically found in
our post-secondary institutions does raise questions around how
authentic and rigorous the home laboratory learning experience is,
especially to other institutions asked to accept these experiences as
equivalent for transfer credit. Accordingly, several authors have
reported a general resistance in chemistry to accepting non-traditional
experiences or alternate delivery modes as being equal to the
traditional forms of laboratories (Bradley, Durbach, Bell, Mungarulire,
& Kimel, 1998; Casanova et al., 2006; Forinash & Wisman, 2001;
Reeves & Kimbrough, 2004).
The term e-learning is also found in the
literature although there are many different opinions on what it means
(Coryell & Chlup, 2007; Larreamendy-Joerns & Leinhardt, 2006;
Moore et al., 2011; Oblinger & Hawkins, 2005). A recent study aimed
at generating a definition of e-learning that would be acceptable to the
majority of the scientific community published the following:E-learning
is an approach to teaching and learning, representing all or part of
the educational model applied, that is based on the use of electronic
media and devices as tools for improving access to training,
communication and interaction and that facilitates the adoption of new
ways of understanding and developing learning. (Sangrà, Vlachopoulos,
& Cabrera, 2012, p. 152)
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM.
It is believed that Chemistry laboratory
work in distance learning courses is not effective. Therefore there is
need to find a way to positively influence effectiveness of chemistry
laboratory works in distance learning centers.
1.3 OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY.
The main objective of the study is to research the influence of distance learning on chemistry Laboratory works.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS.
What is the meaning of distance learning?
What is chemistry Laboratory work?
What is the influence of distance learning on chemistry Laboratory work?
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY.
The study will help in developing a way
to positively improve the influence of distance learning on chemistry
Laboratory works. This study will also help in standardizing chemistry
courses in distance learning centers.
1.6 SCOPE OF THE STUDY.
The study focus on chemistry Laboratory works in distance learning centers.
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