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In this blog post Dr Jillian Thompson and Dr Dan Corbett from the school of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering describe about how they have used quizzes to prep students ahead of lab classes.

As with many aspects of teaching and assessment, a significant contribution to students’ success in laboratory classes is the level of preparation they undertake before attending the class. Preparation for laboratory sessions generally requires students to review theoretical content that they previously studied during lectures; gain an overview of what experiments they will do and how they will do them; and importantly, understand the risks that the experimental work will pose to themselves and others, and the steps they should take in the event of something going wrong! 

However, there are many challenges to providing the students with sufficient information to describe the experiment and safety issues before they have seen the experiment in the lab; and to do this succinctly and clearly so the main points they need are not lost in too much detail.  

This can lead to students being less prepared than they realise when they attend laboratory practical sessions and the administration of these being notoriously complex and time-consuming for staff to manage. Making this process more efficient and giving students feedback, focused on the key points they need to know, before attending class not only allows for better student preparation but also more time during class for practical teaching and learning. 

Until now, it has not been possible to easily assess students’ preliminary knowledge of practical experiments before the class. Likewise, the assessment of students’ knowledge of the health and safety considerations has been difficult to assess past a cursory self-reported check that they have read the appropriate documents, and understood them. Collection of paper-based assessments covering these points, at the start of the laboratory class also leads to more pressure on technical staff at a time when their expertise in the lab is most needed. 

Within the School of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Dr Jillian Thompson and Dr Dan Corbett are leading the development of a robust approach to enhance practical aspects of teaching, in addition to streamlining the delivery of laboratory practical sessions, which makes use of a number of the basic functional aspects of Canvas. This project has so far allowed staff to make more valuable use of their time during practical classes, and enhanced students’ learning, understanding, and enjoyment of experimental work! 

Watch the video below with Dr Dan Corbett, Lecturer (Education) to find out more about this project, and the benefits that have resulted so far. 


Further information:
What are Canvas Quizzes?
How do I create a Multiple Choice quiz question?