Influence Of Distance Learning On Chemistry Laboratory Work

Project and Seminar Material for Chemistry Education

Influence Of Distance Learning On Chemistry Laboratory Work


Abstract


This study was carried out to investigate the influence of distance learning on chemistry laboratory work using the students in the Department of Chemistry Education, National Teachers’ Institute (NTI) NCE Distance Learning Programme. To achieve this objective, three research questions were stated to guide the study. The data was collected from both primary and secondary sources. The primary data were collected with the help of a well-structured questionnaire of two sections administered to the respondents in National Teachers’ Institute (NTI) NCE Distance Learning Programme. The collected data were analyzed tables and descriptive statistics to analyze the research questions. All data were coded using SPSS software. The study reveals that there is availability of laboratory facilities for distance learning programme; there is influence of distance learning on chemistry laboratory work and there are factors militating against access to laboratory facilities for distance learning programme students. The study concluded with some recommendations that as practical is an integral part of the subject. NUC there should these Distance Learning Programme provide a well-equipped laboratories with essential amenities.


Chapter One


Introduction

1.1 Background of the Study

Experimentation is obviously central to scientific investigation, but what compelling reasons are there for students to perform experiments, particularly the textbook laboratory exercise in which the results are already well known? There are two main elements to an experiment: its design and analysis of the data. But no experiment can be performed without error, so one must determine with what degree of certainty the data supports a particular hypothesis. Coming to terms with the inaccuracy and imprecision of results requires knowledge of the interplay between experimental design and data analysis. Some laboratory skills, such as the statistical analysis of data, can be learned in the abstract outside of the laboratory. Experimental design, however, can only be learned from using real equipment in real experiments, often through a certain amount of trial and error.

Distance education attempts to achieve traditional educational goals with the added challenge of connecting the instructor and student by some delivery technology. There is general agreement on the fundamental role of the laboratory component in any first year general chemistry course in a Bachelor of Science program. The exact form or nature of the laboratory experience, however, has been the subject of much debate in the literature (Bennett, Seery, & Sovegjarto-Wigbers, 2009; Buntine et al., 2007; Domin, 1999; Elliott, Stewart, & Lagowski, 2008; Pickering, 1993; Reid & Shah, 2007; Talanquer, 2012). Reid and Shah (2007) presented a general set of goals that chemistry laboratory experiences should include, such as making chemistry real to the student, allowing the student to learn practical and scientific skills, and developing general skills such as problem solving ability. When a general chemistry course is being delivered to a distance student, a key question is how to provide this student with the laboratory portion of the course to accomplish the desired learning objectives.

Many educational institutions have tackled this problem by requiring distance students to attend on-campus laboratory courses offered on weekends or in a multi-day block (Lyall & Patti, 2010). Expecting a distance student to attend a physical lab course during a narrow and intensive time-frame eliminates the main advantage of distance education, namely flexibility. Another solution is offering distance chemistry students the opportunity to complete the laboratory component of the course from home using home experiment kits. Several academic institutions have adopted this approach by successfully developing and offering these laboratory experiences for their distance general chemistry students in B.Sc. programs (Casanova, Civelli, Kimbrough, Heath, & Reeves, 2006; Jeshofnig & Jeshofnig, 2011; Kennepohl, 2007; Lyall & Patti, 2010). Removing students from the “traditional” laboratory setting typically found in our post-secondary institutions does raise questions around how authentic and rigorous the home laboratory learning experience is, especially to other institutions asked to accept these experiences as equivalent for transfer credit. Accordingly, several authors have reported a general resistance in chemistry to accepting non-traditional experiences or alternate delivery modes as being equal to the traditional forms of laboratories (Bradley, Durbach, Bell, Mungarulire, & Kimel, 1998; Casanova et al., 2006; Forinash & Wisman, 2001; Reeves & Kimbrough, 2004).

The term e-learning is also found in the literature although there are many different opinions on what it means (Coryell & Chlup, 2007; Larreamendy-Joerns & Leinhardt, 2006; Moore et al., 2011; Oblinger & Hawkins, 2005). A recent study aimed at generating a definition of e-learning that would be acceptable to the majority of the scientific community published the following:E-learning is an approach to teaching and learning, representing all or part of the educational model applied, that is based on the use of electronic media and devices as tools for improving access to training, communication and interaction and that facilitates the adoption of new ways of understanding and developing learning. (Sangrà, Vlachopoulos, & Cabrera, 2012, p. 152)


1.2 Statement of the Problem

It is believed that Chemistry laboratory work in distance learning courses is not effective. Therefore there is need to find a way to positively influence effectiveness of chemistry laboratory works in distance learning centers.


1.3 Objective of the Study

The main objective of the study is to research the influence of distance learning on chemistry Laboratory works.


1.4 Research Questions

  1. What is the meaning of distance learning?
  2. What is chemistry Laboratory work?
  3. What is the influence of distance learning on chemistry Laboratory work?

1.5 Significance of the Study

The study will help in developing a way to positively improve the influence of distance learning on chemistry Laboratory works. This study will also help in standardizing chemistry courses in distance learning centers.


1.6 Scope of the Study

The study focus on chemistry Laboratory works in distance learning centers.


Chapter Five


Summary, Conclusion and Recommendations

5.1 Introduction

This chapter presents the summary, conclusion and recommendations for further studies.


5.2 Summary of Findings

This study was carried out to investigate the influence of distance learning on chemistry laboratory work using the Department of Chemistry Education, National Teachers’ Institute (NTI) NCE Distance Learning Programme. To achieve this objective, three research questions were stated to guide this study. A structured questionnaire was used as the main instrument to gather data from 120 respondents in the Department of Chemistry Education, National Teachers’ Institute (NTI) NCE Distance Learning Programme. Out of this number, 95 (79.2%) copies of questionnaire were appropriately completed and returned for data analysis while 25(20.8%) copies of questionnaire not completed and returned.

The data collected from the respondents were analyzed using tables and descriptive statistics to analyze the research questions. The findings revealed that;

  1. There is availability of laboratory facilities for distance learning programme.
  2. There is influence of distance learning on chemistry laboratory work.
  3. There are factors militating against access to laboratory facilities for distance learning programme students.

5.3 Conclusion

Based on the findings of this study and the subsequent recommendations, it is concluded that distance education attempts to achieve traditional educational goals with the added challenge of connecting the instructor and student by some delivery technology. There is general agreement on the fundamental role of the laboratory component in any first year general chemistry course in a Bachelor of Science program. Lack of adequate practical periods, inadequate laboratory facilities make the teaching of chemistry to be ineffective in most schools used for the study. It was also discovered that the relevant chemistry textbooks were inadequate for the students, thereby making the work cumbersome for the teachers and thus ineffective. The issue of personnel was not left out in the findings as most of the teachers handling the subject are not professional on the job, though they are graduates. Some of the respondents also highlighted that some of the teachers teaching chemistry in the high schools will not be as effective as a specialist in the subject itself due to inappropriate educational qualification to teach the subject.


5.4 Recommendations

Based on the findings of this study, the researcher made the following recommendations:

  1. As practical is an integral part of the subject. NUC there should these Distance Learning Programme provide a well-equipped laboratories with essential amenities.
  2. Another important factor is the employment of qualified laboratory attendants to help the teacher in preparation of laboratory for practicals. This will make the work of the teacher to be less cumbersome and thus promote effective teaching.
  3. Provision of relevant and up-to-date textbooks for both teachers and students will also promote effective teachings as the teacher can prepare ahead from different textbooks and the students can also read ahead of the class. Besides, the government should prevent the infiltration of those irrelevant and low standard textbooks into the schools.

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