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Lab Work

Elizabeth Hegarty-Hazel

Lab work is the unique feature of a science education. Most of the physical and biological sciences are essentially empirical - research is conducted, knowledge is produced and progress is made in the professional laboratories of scientists. It has seemed logical that student science should reflect professional science and thus science students have been taught, for at least part of the
time, in laboratory classes. This view is supported by research on learning which suggests that scientific knowledge can be most effectively learned from texts, lectures or discussions but that the methods and spirit of enquiry in a discipline are learned in the laboratory. However, how much lab work is needed for the methods and spirit of enquiry to be caught? This cannot be decided in general but must be decided separately for each group of students.

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