A disconnect between staff and student perceptions of learning: an ACELL educational analysis of the first year undergraduate chemistry experiment 'investigating sugar using a home made polarimeter'
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This paper describes an educational analysis of a first year university chemistry practical called ‘Investigating sugar using a home made polarimeter’. The analysis follows the formalism of the Advancing Chemistry by Enhancing Learning in the Laboratory (ACELL) project, which includes a statement of education objectives, and an analysis of the student learning experience. The practical requires students to accurately prepare solutions of known concentrations of a common consumer chemical (sucrose), and then investigate the interaction between these solutions and plane-polarised light. The instrument used is a ‘‘home built’’ polarimeter which students assemble, allowing them to recognise that scientific apparatus need not be mysterious in its operation or construction. Student feedback data were conducted using the ACELL Student Learning Experience (ASLE) instrument. Analysis of the data shows that overwhelmingly students rate the experiment as ‘‘worthwhile’’ or better. However, many also rate the experiment as ‘‘boring’’ or ‘‘uninteresting’’. By contrast, staff and student feedback at an ACELL experiential workshop rated the experiment very highly in terms of the ‘‘interest’’ criterion. In this contribution we discuss this alignment of staff and student perceptions of various elements, including ‘‘interest’’ and explore the correlation with the overall laboratory experience.
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