Liked and disliked laboratories

Laboratories are at the core of the SC 130 Physical Science. While in-class tests and quizzes provide information on academic achievement, how the students react affectively to these laboratories is also important in the course design.


The course is not listed as a requirement by any major at the college, thus the course most frequently serves students taking the course to satisfy their general education science with laboratory requirement. The students are not planning a career in science and likely contain a larger percentage of students for whom science is not attractive as a subject of study. A goal of mine is to open up the thinking of the students. My best hope is that through the course the students will come to have an interest in science, see that even simple topics can be interesting, and gain an appreciation of how science is done.

As an affective learning domain study, students were asked to choose their favorite laboratory and provide comments on why that laboratory was their favorite. The students were also asked to choose their least favorite laboratory and explain why they disliked that laboratory.

Twenty-six students of the twenty-nine students in the course were present on the day of the survey. The laboratories this past term were:

1. Laboratory one: Density of soap
2. Laboratory two: Velocity of a rolling ball
3. Laboratory three: Acceleration of gravity by dropping a ball
4. Laboratory four: Momentum of marbles on a banana leaf ramp
5. Laboratory five: Force, pulleys, mechanical advantage
6. Laboratory six: Conduction of heat per minute through a material
7. Laboratory seven: Using a GPS to calculate meters per minute of latitude
8. Laboratory eight: Cloud drawings
9. Laboratory nine: Sound:, clapping wood blocks to determine the speed of sound
10. Laboratory ten: Spectra, RGB colors, hue saturation luminosity, HTML
11. Laboratory eleven: Reflection in a mirror and apparent depth of pennies underwater
12. Laboratory twelve: Batteries and bulbs, conductors, Ohm's law
13. Laboratory thirteen: Chemistry, acid and base detection using flowers
14. Laboratory fourteen: The search for mathematical relationships with flying disks
15. Laboratory fifteen: Site swap notation and juggling.

The terms are coded in the data table further below in the following manner.

93: Fall 2009
a1: Spring 2010
a2: Summer 2010
a3: Fall 2010
b1: Spring 2011
c1: Spring 2012
d1: Spring 2013
e1: Spring 2014

 The survey results were compiled and are reported below. The laboratories are listed on the left side, the terms across the second row. All net is the sum of the like votes minus the sum of the dislike votes. The second to last column, e1 net, is the spring 2014 likes minus the dislikes, the last column, rng (range), is the sum of the likes and dislikes. The larger the range, the greater the dichotomous spit in the voting.


Like Dislike all e1
Lab 93 a1 a2 a3 b1 c1 c2 d1 d3 e1 93 a1 a2 a3 b1 c1 c2 d1 d3 e1 net rng net rng
1 1 2
1 2 2 1 4 3
1
2 1 2
2
1
7 25 0 0
2 1
1
1 2


2

2
1 1


1 2 12 1 3
3
2

1




1 1
1
2
1

-3 9 0 0
4


1 1 1




1
3 3 4 1


-9 15 0 0
5
1






1 1
1 2 1

1

-4 8 1 1
6 1
2











2
1 1 2 -3 9 -2 2
7 11 6 3 7 1 4 7 7 4 3 9 8 2 6 2 2 2 1
4 17 89 -1 7
8 6 4 7 8 8 3
5
7 6 7 4 1 7 3 9 9 5 4 -7 103 3 11
9

2
2 5 2
2 1 4 2 7 5 6 2 1 2 1 2 -18 46 -1 3
10 7 3
5 7 2
3 1 1 1 2 2 2 4 2
1 2
13 45 1 1
11
3
2
2


1 1 1 1 4


1

0 16 1 1
12 2 3 2 2
1 2
1 4 5 1 4 5 3 3
3 2 2 -11 45 2 6
13 1 10 10 6 12 7 3 7 6 3 4 3
1 2 3
4 2 3 43 87 0 6
14







2 1







2 2 -1 7 -1 3
15








2







1 1 0 4 1 3

Spring 2014 laboratory eight was the most favored laboratory with seven votes as favorite laboratory and an aggregate of three more likes than dislikes. On aggregate laboratory thirteen remains the most favored with a net of 43 more likes than dislikes. As laboratory 13 immediately precedes the survey, this may bias the results. This term thirteen had three votes as the most liked and three votes as the most disliked.

Spring 2014 seven and eight received the strongest negative ratings with four students each listing these as their most disliked laboratory.

Note that some students simply say that they liked all labs, or disliked none, thus totals do not add to the sample size.

In the affective domain, the proof is in the details and the individual comments by students provide this insight.

Liked laboratory comments:
2 I liked the ones that deal with speed, conversion, computations, because they dealt with mathematics. All [labs] are awesome. The way the tests/experiments were carried out were accurate and fun to do.
7 It was fun try something new to me and trying to deduce where a certain location was, specifically [Dana's] location.
7 I get to experience how to navigate by using the longitude and latitude.
7 We used a GPS to find things in their locations.
8 I learn the name of the clouds.
8 Cloud drawings were very easy
8 I love drawing
8 Eight was easy, no full write-up and just a sketch. Not much work to do.
12 I have a son who is fourth grade. He enjoys doing this kind of experiment. I can implement in my class.
12 I got to learn about current.
12 We could only pick any batteries falling around and connect the bulb to it and there we have light.
13 I feel like a doctor testing with acids, base. I like that lab. Moving and fun.
14 [Fourteen] gave me a lot of work to do. It's not just the work but among all the labs this one is kind of exciting.
15 I got to learn how to juggle.
15 I like juggling and I didn't get tired

Disliked laboratory comments:

7 We had to use the GPS to find Dana and to which I did not.
7 I hate using GPS and I am not good at calculating latitudes
8 Drawing is my weakness
8 Lab eight is like a third grade's work
9 We walked too far.
13 [Seven was] kind of hard to figure out what test object to use.
13 I really got tired and I also failed that lab
14 I did not know what I was doing with the lab report
15 Site swap. Begin with two balls first then three in order to master first step.

Comments that note a laboratory was interesting or fun directly support my own goals in the course. Once something is interesting and fun, the student becomes a self-driven learner. And learning only really occurs when a person wants to learn. If I can generate the desire, then the learning can follow.

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