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Abstract

The laboratory has long been an important part of the undergraduate science experience. This paper reports on a qualitative, grounded theory study on students’ perceptions of the purpose of the laboratory. Thirteen undergraduate chemistry students were interviewed about their experiences in the science laboratory to provide data on students’ understanding of the purpose of the laboratory in science education. Results reveal that students had views that were polar opposites regarding the correlation between laboratory and lecture content material and the effectiveness of the laboratory at enhancing their learning in science. This paper also reveals the need for explicit instruction regarding the purpose of the laboratory to enhance student understanding. Interpretations of these and other findings are provided, along with a schema for approaching the undergraduate perception of the laboratory synthesizing current and past findings.

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