The teaching laboratory has long been considered to be an integral and essential part of many chemistry courses. However, research studies of learning in the laboratory often indicate that traditional laboratory courses have very little effect on student achievement, and furthermore may inadvertently promote student misconceptions about the nature of scientific experimentation. In fact we often seem to be squandering the real opportunities that a well-designed laboratory course can offer. One thing is certain, with increasing pressure from legislatures and administrations to become more efficient with regard to both human resources and expenses we will need to be very certain what can and cannot be achieved in a teaching laboratory. Is it possible to take advantage of current research about student learning to design a meaningful and pedagogically sound laboratory experience for students, while satisfying the concerns of those who pay the bills? Can we show that a laboratory experience can result in higher student achievements and deeper learning? What should the chemistry teaching lab look like as we move forward?
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