A Cross-Institutional Perspective of Pre Laboratory Activities in Undergraduate Chemistry


  • David L. A. Scarborough The University of Sydney, Faculty of Science, School of Chemistry, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia http://orcid.org/0000-0002-0390-385X
  • Stephen R. George-Williams The University of Sydney, Faculty of Science, School of Chemistry, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  • Christopher D. Thompson School of Chemistry, Faculty of Science, Monash University, Victoria 3800, Australia




Pre-laboratory exercises may help reduce cognitive load in the laboratory, boost confidence, develop theoretical understanding and skills, and improve grades on assessment tasks. This study compared pre-laboratory activities at two institutions, Go8-1 and Go8-2, to evaluate which attributes of pre-laboratory activities were perceived by students to best prepare them for laboratory classes. Students were surveyed towards the end of their laboratory course, and were asked a series of Likert-style and open response questions. Factor analysis was used to construct three scales, incorporating items relating to performance and understanding, items relating to affective and personal laboratory experience, and items relating to requiring support with laboratory equipment. No difference between cohorts was observed between the two institutions regarding requiring support with equipment. While Go8-1 students rated performance and understanding more highly than Go8-2 students, the opposite result was observed for affective and personal factors. The factor analysis results and responses to the open response questions indicated that students felt most prepared for laboratory exercises when the pre-class activities touched upon all aspects of the laboratory class. It is recommended that quizzes and video be used in pre-laboratory activities, with these resources covering theory, aims, methods, calculations and data analysis.





Research Articles