Laboratory work in science education

Review question

What characterizes practical laboratory work in science education that contributes to students’ learning of science content and science processes?

Background

Practical laboratory work plays an important role in generating knowledge about the physical world within the scientific tradition. Laboratory work is also an important element of science education in schools. Several intended learning outcomes are combined in laboratory work, in as much as it provides the student with both knowledge of science content and an opportunity to learn inquiry-based methods.

Laboratory work can be organized in a variety of ways with varying types of guidance from the teacher. Guidance can be very explicit and specified focusing on students’ being able to demonstrate a fact, or can be less specific in order to support students’ to develop inquiry skills. Depending on how the teacher choose to organize the lab activities, different intended learning outcomes can be emphasized to varying degrees.

Analyses conducted by the Swedish Institute for Educational Research suggest that teachers would like more knowledge regarding how laboratory work can be used for various purposes; among other things, how lab work can contribute to both the student’s ability to acquire knowledge of scientific phenomena and explanations, and to learn how to perform inquiry tasks.

Project group

The project is carried out by a project team consisting of external researchers (specialists in the field) and employees at the Swedish Institute for Educational Research.

External researchers

  • Niklas Gericke, Professor, Karlstad University
  • Per Högström, Senior Lecturer, Halmstad University

From the Institute

  • Johan Wallin, PhD, Researcher/Project manager
  • Eva Bergman, Information specialist
  • Maria Bergman, Project assistant

Contact

Johan Wallin, PhD
Researcher/Project manager
tel: 08-523 29 810
johan.wallin@skolfi.se