Identifying intended learning outcomes of the laboratory experiments

Posted by Mauro Mocerino, on Oct. 17, 2023, 11:46 p.m.

Mauro Mocerino

Science and Engineering, Curtin University, Australia 


Challenge and goal

Making the intended learning outcomes of the laboratory experiments clear and helping students identify how these will be attained in the experiment.

Topic of the user case

Identifying intended learning outcomes of laboratory experiments.

Local context (specific)

Many laboratory manuals do not specifically document the intended learning outcomes, but instead, simply provide a general aim. This aim is often similar to the experiment title, eg "Synthesis of benzoic acid" but this does not inform the students about what they should learn or the skills they should develop. Consequently, many students do not recognize the intended learning outcomes of the laboratory experiments they are doing, and this adversely impacts on their motivation.

Local CPD goals

Help staff identify and document the intended learning outcomes for each experiment in their laboratory program and help students identify the specific laboratory activities that will lead to the ILO.


Needs defined in STEM-CPD Roadmap

2 define intended learning outcomes in every course they teach
4 engage students and arouse interest for the discipline in the class
12 design laboratory courses
3 inspire a positive attitude in their class.
1 be reflective teachers and reflect about their courses / lectures.
8 discuss teaching with their colleagues.
10 attending workshops that are organized generally for lecturers from different disciplines.
11 collaborating with a peer-lecturer on a redesign of a course.
13 collaborating on a teaching innovation project.

CPD activities at the local university

I will first implement this into my teaching using the ASELL educational template. In the template the ILOs are listed under three key groupings: (i) Theoretical and conceptual knowledge, (ii) Scientific and practical skills, and  (iii) Transferable skills. The students will then be asked to identify when they will achieve the ILO and also how they will know that they have achieved it. Once successfully implemented, the program will be shared with colleagues.

Pre-workshop activities

Work through the micro MOOC on ILO, read the ASELL paper describing the educational template, and select two experiments for the workshop.

Workshop activities

Work through the template for their selected experiments on a platform like google docs.

Post-workshop activities

Complete the educational template for both their selected experiments.

Teaching and learning materials

Staff will be asked to complete the micro MOOC on constructive alignment "Understanding what we learn" and will be given some examles of completed ASELL templates to assist staff in developing their own. They will be asked to work with a discipline colleague and to select two experiments for this activity. One experiment should be one that they think is working well and the other should be one they think needs improvement.

Sustainable implementation

Once this has been successfully implemented by a few colleagues, the process will be presented to the faculty as a recommendation for implementation more widely. The early adopters will be promoted as local champions to help their colleagues. 

Expected impact of the CPD User Case

Students will better understand the purpose of the experimental programs and see how they prepare them for the workforce, even if not directly working in the lab. Staff will now be able to easily identify "learning gaps" or areas that have been over-assessed.

Plans for eventual continuation of the CPD within the same topic

My first pass is to do it with my subject and then when it works well, share it with others, firstly within the School of Molecular and Life Sciences and then more broadly within the faculty.

Constructive alignment, Engagement and motivation, facilitation discipline specific learning (type P1-1, P1-3b)

This CPD scenario describes a User case in which lecturers develop their competence in sound course design and how to engage and motivate students and how to facilitate discipline specific thinking 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 hours.
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 hours

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