Change Process for a Laboratory Program

Stefan Huth, Emma Yench, Ian Potter, Elizabeth Johnson


Conventional science laboratory teaching has frequently been criticised for delivering poor student learning outcomes at great expense. Although many paedagogically valuable practical activities and laboratory curriculum concepts have been described in the literature, their implementation in university teaching programs has been very slow, which suggests that model activities alone are not sufficient for bringing about educational change. Successful laboratory curriculum reform requires the conception of pathways for change. The chemistry laboratory program at La Trobe University, Australia, has entered the second year of a redevelopment project that aims to modernise the curriculum and introduce a skill development focus. A four-year change plan, including a comprehensive evaluation strategy, has been devised. Four factors were identified that enabled the development and implementation of the project, which include strong backing from the chemistry department, a shared responsibility model for laboratory teaching, synergies with a university-wide curriculum reform process and support from a national learning and teaching peer network. The scale of the project and the difficulty in motivating all stakeholders to actively participate, present significant challenges for the project.

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