While the goals for instructional labs have been highly debated, inquiry-and skills-driven labs can lead to significant gains in students' scientific and experimentation abilities. A simple scaffold for introductory labs uses iterative cycles of comparisons to develop students' critical thinking abilities and experimentation behaviours. By focusing the iterations on improving measurements, students explore the limits of physical models in the real world and engage in the evaluation and refinement of these models. In this presentation, I will describe our controlled research study that implemented and evaluated this framework, which found that students adopted these behaviours and continued to use them even after instruction to do so had been removed. I will also discuss more recent work developing a diagnostic instrument to assess these critical thinking behaviours.
Coffee and Refreshments will be available in SSC 1511.