An investigation into the effectiveness of problem‐based learning in a physical chemistry laboratory course
The aim of this study was to investigate the effectiveness of a problem?based learning (PBL) approach in a physical chemistry laboratory course. The parameters investigated were students? attitudes towards a chemistry laboratory course, scientific process skills of students and their academic achievement. The design of the study was one group pre?test?post?test. Four experiments, covering the topics adsorption, viscosity, surface tension and conductivity were performed using a PBL approach in the fall semester of the 2003/04 academic year at Kazim Karabekir Education Faculty of Atatürk University. Each experiment was done over a three week period. A total of 40 students, 18 male and 22 female, participated in the study. Students took the Physical Chemistry Laboratory Concept Test (PCLCT), Attitudes towards Chemistry Laboratory (ATCL) questionnaire and Science Process Skills Test (SPST) as pre and post?tests. In addition, the effectiveness of the PBL approach was also determined through four different scales; Scales Specific to Students? Views of PBL. A statistically significant difference between the students? academic achievement and scientific process skills at p < 0.05 level was found. No statistically significant difference was found at the students? attitude towards the physical chemistry laboratory. The results suggests that the PBL approach promoted critical thinking and problem?solving skills; active participation in the learning process including self?direction, identification of own learning needs, teamwork, creative discussion and learning from peers; and the integration and synthesis of a variety of knowledge.