Thoughts from the Workshops

Queensland University of Technology

It struck me after the workshop that an inquiry based approach would be entirely suited to our course.

– QUT workshop participant

August 2011

The inaugural Fellowship workshop took place at QUT. A key observation from QUT was how engaged and animated the academics were when put back in the role of the student and getting to do something hands on. Encouragingly this experience led to IOL reinvigorating academic passion in lab teaching and in follow up feedback from the workshops academics have been motivated to review their course material with a view to incorporating IOL activities.

Flinders University

The best aspect of the workshop was thinking about science labs from a new angle.

– Flinders workshop participant

August 2011

The second of the Fellowship Workshops, Flinders participants responded well to the workshop and IOL. The ability to engage in hands on activities allowed the essence of IOL to emerge including some of the challenges, in particular, those that would be faced by demonstrators. Participants noted the best aspect was ‘the opportunity to review science teaching in a new way’ and in ‘having the opportunity for discussion with peers’. The feedback from participants was also appreciated as it allowed the workshop to be improved.

Charles Sturt University

Having a hands on inquiry experience illustrates and stimulates.

– CSU workshop participant

September 2011

Two workshops were held

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at CSU. The overwhelming response from participants was that they found engaging in a hands on inquiry learning activity valuable. Discussion focused on elements of the workshop experiment that have wide applicability to all experiments, specifically the need to consider student preparation and to ensure any experience has relevance to students. It was noted that while the Fellowship workshop required no preparation it is important to explore the experiences and support, students may require ahead of the prac experience. In participating in an experiment as a student the need for IOL experiences to be relevant to the student was made clear. Students often want and expect a direct relationship between their lab experience and their chosen career path. In creating the right context and managing those expectations it was agreed would lead to a more engaging experience for students.

Strathclyde University

The best aspect was the interaction with others in discussing approaches.

– Strathclyde University workshop participant

October 2011

Interestingly, participants internationally reported many of the same strengths and challenges with IOL as Australian workshop participants. The discussions in Strathclyde University and feedback forms focussed on the value of IOL experiences to new students but as one participant noted for IOL experiences to resonate they must have the ‘wow’ factor. The role of the demonstrator in IOL activities was discussed in detail with the success of such activities relying on the experience and attitude of demonstrators. It was noted if demonstrators don’t see the point of experiments how can students be expected to?

Adelaide University

The workshop made me think about what I am trying to do in/with the labs. It is important to keep reminding myself of the purpose.

– Adelaide University workshop participant

December 2011

As part of a two day event this workshop with the Engineering faculty highlighted the transferrable elements of the workshop to the design of lab based experiences in Engineering. Participants felt it was essential to engage with questions that had no predetermined answer allowing students to develop and implement approaches, gather evidence and communicate explanations that address the question. Feedback from participants highlighted the need to provide greater specifics about IOL and resources to implement activities.