Previous / Next  

Produced January 2004
Duration 2 mins 5s

264 views on campus
9835 views in total

Authors: Chris Barnard (School of Biology), Michele Clarke (School of Geography), Kathy Simmons (Department of Mechanical, Materials & Manufacturing Engineering).

I have got two actually and they are more applicable for this sort of afternoon-type lab work which is the sort of work we would do most in engineering. The first thing I would say is make sure the mechanics of what you are asking the students to do does not obscure what you want them to learn.

So if there is a complicated piece of equipment that it is actually quite difficult to get a handle on is to make sure they don't put so much effort into learning how to use that particular piece of kit that it obscures the learning objectives of the piece of work that you are doing. That's one thing.

The other thing, quite often I think we inherit modules from other people and it incorporates a certain piece of lab work. I would say make sure you have tried it yourself because sometimes the instructions are not brilliant and the results do not work the way you thought they would do. So those are the two things that have been most useful to me.

Sadly you can't do that with animal behaviour!

I think what I would recommend is, within the constraints of risk assessment and health and safety, wherever possible change the power relationship to allow the students to take control of the experiment or the practical where they can and make it as fun as possible. If they are enjoying it and they have some control of how it works they are going to get more out of it.

My tip is very similar to Michele's which is wherever possible engage the student by giving them the ownership of the idea behind the experiment. It isn't always possible, but where you can, make them do work which is testing what they think is interesting.

You need to guide them in that in terms of providing a framework for it, but it is thinking their way into the problem that is just as important as thinking their way out of it. They need for formulate problems in the proper way in order to get the proper answers out of them.

If they don't do that they are just going to follow recipe style practicals and expect the answers either given to them or somehow to drop out of the sky. With ownership of the idea you get much more motivated, much more constructive approaches from the students, in my experience.

Extracts from a panel discussion on teaching in practicals at the January 2004 PGCHE Introductory Event.

Teaching at Nottingham keywords
Learning outcomes, Labs, studio work, practicals, Problem-solving learning.

Related videos

Giving feedback on practical sessions via a podcast. Sarah Westwater-Wood et al., School of Nursing, Midwifery & Physiotherapy

Involving qualified professionals in lab-based practicals. Sarah Freeman et al., School of Veterinary Medicine & Science

Learning communication skills from groupwork in practical sessions. Sarah Freeman et al., School of Veterinary Medicine & Science

Demonstrating practical skills to large groups using an overhead visualiser. Sarah Freeman et al., School of Veterinary Medicine & Science

The future of practicals with increasing numbers. Michele Clarke et al., School of Geography

Previous video

Kerry Welch on Video::Interactions Kerry Welch, School of Nursing, Midwifery & Physiotherapy

Next video

Learning Sets as a strategy to enable learning from a work placement. Alison Clark et al., School of Nursing, Midwifery & Physiotherapy

Teaching on campus

PESL related websites

'Key points in…' in more depth
'Key points in…' web context
Teaching at Nottingham: Staff perspectives on practice from across the University

Teaching at Nottingham
Staff perspectives on practice from across the University

Staff on campus who looked at 'Key points in…' also viewed

Learning through labs and practical work. Martin Luck et al., School of Biosciences

Also viewed auto-updated daily

Contact TeachTube

Dr Rachel Scudamore

TeachTube © Copyright The University of Nottingham
This page:
Printed: 07:55 am, Tuesday 16th January 2018