Development of Instructional Videos to Improve Students’ Techniques in General Chemistry Laboratory Courses

Grant program: Teaching and Learning Development Grant (TLDG)

Grant recipient: Sophie Lavieri, Department of Chemistry

Project team: Teresita Barbou, Alex Devonish, and Gilberto Martinez, research assistants

Timeframe: January to April 2012

Funding: $2,967.85

Poster presentation: View a poster (PDF) describing this project from the 2012 Symposium on Teaching and Learning.

Description: When students come to our chemistry labs, they are expected to follow the procedures outlined in the lab manuals in order to complete their experiments. Although the students get a short introductory lecture from the lab instructors and/or their TAs about proper techniques, some students still struggle, either because their (or their TAs') English proficiency is inadequate, or because they skip or forget some details of the explanation, or because they are conducting an experiment assigned and explained some time ago. This lack of understanding of the techniques can greatly affect their experimental results.

I propose to develop four videos that demonstrate the proper use of equipment required for an experiment students will perform in the CHEM 126 lab. Having the opportunity to watch the videos in advance of the lab sessions will give students a better understanding of the experiment and related techniques they are about to perform. It will also give them extra time to work on their experiment by reducing the time required for the introductory lecture. Ultimately, the videos should contribute to better student performance.

Since the proposed videos are technique videos, students will be able to refer to them at any time for any experiment requiring those particular techniques. This capability will also help them make connections between different experiments that use the same techniques.

Questions addressed:

First video (pipetting technique):

  • Do students rinse the pipette correctly?
  • Do students place the index finger at the end of the pipette?
  • Do students dry the tip of the pipette before the liquid level reaches down to the calibrated line?
  • Do students hold the pipette correctly?
  • Is their outcome more accurate and precise?

Second video (how to use a burette):

  • Do students wash the burette with water?
  • Do students hold the funnel correctly to add the solution?
  • Do students rinse the burette correctly?
  • Do students check for air bubbles?
  • Do students take readings using a reading card?
  • Is their outcome more accurate and precise?

Third video (titration technique):

  • Do students label three Erlenmeyer flasks?
  • Do students record the initial and final volumes?
  • Do students operate the stopcock correctly?
  • Do students place a paper towel or white paper underneath the Erlenmeyer flask?
  • Do students swirl the Erlenmeyer flask and rinse its walls with water?
  • Do students get the right end point?
  • Is their outcome more accurate and precise?

Fourth video (weighting technique):

  • Do students use the spatula correctly?
  • Do students use the top-loading balance correctly?
  • Do students use the analytical balance correctly?
  • Do students bring their lab notebook to the balance to record the weights?
  • Is their outcome more accurate and precise?

Knowledge sharing: The lab-technique videos will be posted initially on the LON-CAPA learning management system for students who are taking CHEM 126. Later, access may be expanded to students in other lab courses as part of efforts by the Chemistry department to improve student learning outcomes.

Lavieri, S. (2012, May). Development of instructional videos to improve students' techniques in General Chemistry Laboratory courses. Poster session presented at the Symposium on Teaching and Learning: Leading Change @SFU, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC.