Improve students preparation for laboratory classes

Posted by Goreti Pereira, on Oct. 16, 2023, 6:44 p.m.

Goreti Pereira

Department of Chemistry, University of Aveiro, Portugal


Challenge and goal

Laboratory class requires that students read the experimental methodology in advance to understand what they will be doing and the safety procedure for each experiment. Teachers struggle to assess if the students read and understood the experimental methodology and are aware of the risk of each solvent/reagent. Nowadays, the assessment is done by an individual report delivered at the beginning of the class, which increases the workload of the lecturer. Thus, an assessment method that reflects if the students read and understand the procedure, which will be more equal to every student, and reduce the workload of the teacher is still needed.

Topic of the user case

Decrease the teachers workload and promote the equality in the assessment of lab preparation reports.

Local context (specific)

The discipline Fundamentals of Chemistry is taught to first-semester students from several undergraduate courses, having more than 500 students enrolled. The practical classes occur every two weeks, and the students have to deliver an individual report at the beginning of the class, and a final report done in pairs. The individual report has the aim to guarantee that the students read and understand the experimental procedure to be able to carry on the practical work, while being aware of the risks of the laboratory work. However, these individual pre-lab reports are only assessed  after the class and increase the teacher workload. Furthermore, each teacher has a different way of grading these reports and the students complain about that.

Local CPD goals

- Reduce the workload of the teachers from laboratory classes.

- Have students well prepared to execute the experiments and aware of the specific lab security issues for each class.

- Implement a system that will assess more objectively if the students read and understood the experimental procedures and risks.

Needs defined in STEM-CPD Roadmap

3 choose an appropriate assessment method for their course
14 teach large groups of students
12 design laboratory courses
13 teach about lab safety using digital tools/platform (where appropriate)
20 use digital tools in lab courses
3 inspire a positive attitude in their class.
1 be reflective teachers and reflect about their courses / lectures.
11 organize / attend meetings of their own teaching team to discuss / reflect on the teaching methods and on the effect of those on students' learning.
8 discuss teaching with their colleagues.
3 attending webinars about teaching and learning.
11 collaborating with a peer-lecturer on a redesign of a course.
14 getting personal coaching / support by a pedagogical expert.

CPD activities at the local university

  1. First meeting to start the discussion and reflection about the challenge.

  2. Research and reading about possible approaches.

  3. Second meeting to discuss all the options. Present the Perusall as an option for the assessment of the individual reports.

  4. Participating in workshops or other activities to learn how to use Perusall (or other platform).

  5. Create the assignments and the assessment parameters in Perusall (or other platform).

  6. Feedback from the fellow lectures and students.


Teaching and learning materials

On-line courses and books about Perusall platform.


Sustainable implementation

Firstly this User Case should be implemented in one particular laboratory class, involving all the teachers from that subject. After a reflection on the results, and in the case of positive feedback from the lectures and the students, this User Case could be applied to other classes.

Expected impact of the CPD User Case

  • Increase the teachers motivation by reducing their workload.

  • Reduce the subjectivity in the students assessments.

  • Have students well prepared to develop the experiments in the lab.


Plans for eventual continuation of the CPD within the same topic

Share knowledge and experience with other laboratory classes.

Constructive alignment, Competence teaching, Engagement and motivation, facilitation discipline specific learning, Blended learning (type P1-1, P1-2a, P1-3b, P1-4b)

This CPD scenario describes a User case in which lecturers develop their competence in sound course design and teaching in higher education and how to engage and motivate students and how to facilitate discipline specific thinking and how to use blended learning and develop attitudes in supporting student development and enabling students’ well-being in a learning process and inclusivity and reflecting on own teaching practice and knowledge sharing.
The approximate duration of a User case that follows this scenario is several months.
In this CPD scenario the participants professionalize in a close connection to their own teaching practice (at their workplace) and meet in person on location with the training staff and with other participants.

Learning environment
Several months

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See also