We have developed a process-oriented chemistry laboratory curriculum for non-science majors. The purpose of this study is to explore university students’ understanding of chemistry processes -- i.e., how chemical knowledge and products are constructed and used -- and to evaluate the quality of evidence students use to support their claims regarding chemistry processes in a process-oriented chemistry laboratory course.
Material and methods:
The data were collected from four classes offered during the first two semesters in which the new curriculum was implemented. We analyzed students’ written laboratory reports, which included the components of claims, evidence, and reflection, to investigate their understanding of the process skills required in knowledge construction in chemistry. We also evaluated the quality of evidence the students used to support their claims regarding chemistry processes by using five-level criteria which we developed.
The findings of this study show that a process-oriented laboratory curriculum contributes to developing university students’ understanding of chemistry processes and the ability to link appropriate and sufficient evidence to their claims.
The findings of this study also imply that there are specific types of process skills which are unique or more necessary for chemistry research, and these skills can be developed through a process-oriented chemistry laboratory curriculum.