Selecting learning intentions for practical work

Following on from his discussion of the usefulness (or not) of practical work for student learning, Millar (2009) goes on to say:

“It does not seem sensible to ask this question about practical work in general. Practical activities differ considerably in what they ask students to do and what they are trying to teach.”

The same piece of practical work can be used in so many ways, depending on how you plan the lesson. For example, the root tip squash experiment we will look at next week could be used for students to identify stages of cell division, or to develop microscopy skills.

Millar (2009) usefully groups learning objectives for practical work into three broad categories:

To help students:

A. develop their knowledge and understanding of the natural world

B. learn how use a piece of scientific equipment or follow a standard practical procedure

C. develop their understanding of the scientific approach to enquiry.

Learning objectives for enzyme practicals

In the next steps there are three videos showing enzyme practicals. After the videos we will identify the different types of learning which the practicals could help students achieve. As you watch the videos, make a note of what learning we can plan for using these practicals.

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This article is from the free online course:

Teaching Practical Science: Biology

National STEM Learning Centre