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Revision workshops in elementary mathematics enhance student performance in routine laboratory calculations

Sawbridge, Jenny L.; Qureshi, Haseeb K.; Boyd, Matthew J.; Brown, Angus M.

Authors

Jenny L. Sawbridge

Haseeb K. Qureshi



Abstract

The ability to understand and implement calculations required for molarity and dilution computations that are routinely undertaken in the laboratory are essential skills that should be possessed by all students entering an undergraduate Life Sciences degree. However, it is increasingly recognized that the majority of these students are ill equipped to reliably carry out such calculations. There are several factors that conspire against students' understanding of this topic, with the alien concept of the mole in relation to the mass of compounds and the engineering notation required when expressing the relatively small quantities typically involved being two key examples. In this report, we highlight teaching methods delivered via revision workshops to undergraduate Life Sciences students at the University of Nottingham. Workshops were designed to 1) expose student deficiencies in basic numeracy skills and remedy these deficiencies, 2) introduce molarity and dilution calculations and illustrate their workings in a step-by-step manner, and 3) allow students to appreciate the magnitude of numbers. Preworkshop to postworkshop comparisons demonstrated a considerable improvement in students' performance, which attenuated with time. The findings of our study suggest that an ability to carry out laboratory calculations cannot be assumed in students entering Life Sciences degrees in the United Kingdom but that explicit instruction in the form of workshops improves proficiency to a level of competence that allows students to prosper in the laboratory environment.

Citation

Sawbridge, J. L., Qureshi, H. K., Boyd, M. J., & Brown, A. M. (2014). Revision workshops in elementary mathematics enhance student performance in routine laboratory calculations. Advances in Physiology Education, 38(3), 239-245. https://doi.org/10.1152/advan.00036.2014

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 4, 2014
Publication Date 2014-09
Deposit Date Jul 25, 2016
Publicly Available Date Jul 25, 2016
Journal Advances in Physiology Education
Print ISSN 1043-4046
Electronic ISSN 1522-1229
Publisher American Physiological Society
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 38
Issue 3
Pages 239-245
DOI https://doi.org/10.1152/advan.00036.2014
Keywords Concentration, dilution, mass, molarity, molecular weight, moles, solution.
Public URL http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/35409
Publisher URL http://advan.physiology.org/content/38/3/239
Copyright Statement Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address: http://eprints.nottingh.../end_user_agreement.pdf

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Copyright Statement
Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/end_user_agreement.pdf





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