Involving students in experimental design: three approaches

A P McNeal, D U Silverthorn, D B Stratton
1998 Advances in Physiology Education  
M any faculty want to involve students more actively in laboratories and in experimental design. However, just "turning them loose in the lab" is time-consuming and can be frustrating for both students and faculty. We describe three different ways of providing structures for labs that require students to design their own experiments but guide the choices. One approach emphasizes invertebrate preparations and classic techniques that students can learn fairly easily. Students must read relevant
more » ... imary literature and learn each technique in one week, and then design and carry out their own experiments in the next week. Another approach provides a "design framework" for the experiments so that all students are using the same technique and the same statistical comparisons, whereas their experimental questions differ widely. The third approach involves assigning the questions or problems but challenging students to design good protocols to answer these questions. In each case, there is a mixture of structure and freedom that works for the level of the students, the resources available, and our particular aims.
doi:10.1152/advances.1998.275.6.s28 pmid:16161223 fatcat:rwaobyajevfb5oc5sbut3ovagm