The role of laboratory work in university chemistry

Norman Reid, Iqbal Shah

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    276 Citations (Scopus)


    The place of experimental work in laboratories has always assumed a high profile at all levels of chemical education. This paper seeks to review the main strands of evidence available today and argues that the place of experimental work needs to be reconsidered at higher education levels. There is a need for a clarification of aims and objectives, and these need to be communicated to learners. It argues that higher education needs to be acutely aware of what goes on at school and to build on these skills. Pre-laboratory exercises are strongly supported by the evidence, while there needs to be a radical re-thinking of the use of laboratory manuals, with assessment being explored afresh. In addition, seeing the laboratory experience in the context of what goes on before and after, as well as other learning, will enhance the learning potential of this time. Examples of some ways forward are presented. Overall, it is argued that much more could be gained by the students if the laboratory experience, using similar experiments, was radically re-thought.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)172-185
    Number of pages14
    JournalChemistry Education Research and Practice
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2007


    • Higher education laboratory work
    • Aims and objectives in laboratory instruction
    • Pre-laboratory exercises
    • Post-laboratory tasks


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