Laboratory work is one of the main forms of teaching used in chemistry, physics, biology and medicine. For many years researchers and teachers have argued in favor or against this form of education. Student opinion could be a valuable tool for teachers to demonstrate the validity of such expensive and work intensive forms of education as laboratory work. However, due to concerns regarding overly positive replies and a strong personal bias in opinions regarding various courses, teachers and technicians, student opinion has largely been discounted so far. A set of markers based on the strategic aims of Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, have been selected and used to collect student opinion. The markers appear to be independent and present a more objective view of the value of student opinion regarding laboratory education. In contrast, direct questions showed exactly the positive bias criticized by researchers and academics. The markers based on strategic aims revealed that laboratories are valued but that certain areas of this form of education require improvement. The trends collected by use of the markers were line with replies to free-form questions and could therefore present a valid option for researchers to evaluate the effectiveness of various forms of education based on the opinions of the people most concerned, the students.
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