Lessons in Effective Practical Chemistry at Tertiary Level: Case Studies from a Chemistry Outreach Program

  •  D. E. Shallcross    
  •  T. G. Harrison    
  •  A. J. Shaw    
  •  K. L. Shallcross    
  •  S. J. Croker    
  •  N. C. Norman    


Two summer schools focused on practical chemistry, one involving secondary school students and one involving visually impaired adults (i.e., not involving undergraduates) have produced students that appeared to be on the way to achieving the basic criteria set out by Buckley and Kempa (1971) in terms of practical skills. These criteria being that laboratory work should aim to encourage students to gain

  • Manipulative skills
  • Observational skills
  • The ability to interpret experimental data
  • The ability to plan experiments.
Extensive pre-laboratory work, blocking of laboratory time to ensure that a series of practicals could be worked through and continuity of the course, where ideas are built upon, were identified as key aspects that contributed to the students development during the summer school. Assessment is often seen as the driver for either surface level or deep level learning, here these summer schools did not have formal assessments but the emphasis was on assessing practical skills rather than assessing a long practical write-up. Follow-up interviews after 2-5 years of the school students showed that the chance to experience University, meet like-minded students and make friends is as strong a motivation as learning new practical skills.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.