Investigations into the Role of First Year IPLS Instructional Labs
Laboratory work is generally considered to be a fundamental pillar in undergraduate physics instruction. We investigate the effectiveness of the laboratory experience in high-enrollment Introductory Physics for the Life Sciences courses in delivering course content and concepts to students. Using a varied laboratory curriculum, we correlate quiz marks, exam marks, and student opinion data to determine whether specific concepts were reinforced by laboratory activities, as well as what students believe labs should deliver. We additionally investigate the effect of preparatory activity, in the form of prelab videos, on students’ perceptions of the value of lab activities, and their time on task in completing the labs. We find that lab activities do not correlate with content uptake or retention, and that students do not expect content instruction to be the primary goal of their IPLS lab experience. Further, we find that lab preparation does not necessarily result in less time on task, but does appear to correlate with students finding labs more manageable, and gaining more insight from their lab activities.