The School Science Laboratory: Considerations of Learning, Technology, and Scientific Practice

July 12th, 2004 | RESEARCH

This paper explores the role of laboratory and field-based research experiences in secondary science education by summarizing research documenting how such activities promote science learning. Classroom and field-based "lab work" is conceptualized as central components of broader scientific investigations of the natural world conducted by students. Considerations are given to nature of professional scientific practice, the personal relevance of student's understanding of the nature of empirical scientific research, and the role of technology to support learning. Drawing upon classroom learning studies--especially those focused on scaffolding individual and social learning through inquiry experiences--specific insights about science learning through investigation are enumerated and detailed through instructional design principles. The affordances of novel learning technologies are discussed in some depth, especially computer simulations. The increasingly availability of information technologies in schools allow students to learn about contemporary scientific research and engage in inquiry at the frontiers of scientific knowledge. In sum, laboratory investigation holds significant promise for being able to support conceptual and epistemological learning when facilitating conditions are put in place for students.



Team Members

Philip Bell, Author, University of Washington


Audience: Educators | Teachers | Elementary School Children (6-10) | Middle School Children (11-13) | Youth | Teen (up to 17)
Discipline: Education and learning science | General STEM
Resource Type: Reference Materials | Report
Environment Type: Informal | Formal Connections | K-12 Programs | Laboratory Programs | Public Programs