Inquiry labs

Organizing idea

Traditional labs provide detailed instructions to students with the downside that students often just work through the steps without thinking about why they are doing what they are doing. This is a missed opportunity since students spend 2-3 hours each week in the lab. 

Our major change is to replace these labs with inquiry labs where students are posed challenges and they have to figure out how to answer these challenges. This change typically uses the same equipment and the same level of teaching staff, TAs etc.

Good Practices

Critical to the success of these reforms has been the training of TAs. We have in place

  • Formal course, e.g. —Phys 501 where new TAs are introduced to new pedagogy
  • Graduate TA Learning Communities for more experienced TAs to discuss how best to teach these courses
  • Shared resources on how to teach and how students learn via the collaboration of 22 universities in www.cirtl.net 

Courses Involved

Dept

Courses

Type of Inquiry Labs

Number of students each semester Resources

Physics

111,112,115,221,222

POGIL

2000 Physics

Chemistry

177L, 178L

POGIL/local

1800 Chemistry

Biology

211L

Diversity exploration

1500 Biology I

Biology

212L

 

1000
 
Biology II
Geology 101L   150 Geology

Presentation/publication