Impact of biology laboratory courses on students' science performance and views about laboratory courses in general: Innovative measurements and analyses

Silvia Wen-Yu Lee, Yung Chih Lai, Hon Tsen Alex Yu, Yu Teh Kirk Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Citations (Scopus)


Despite the fact that some educational researchers believe that laboratory courses promote outcomes in cognitive and affective domains in science learning, others have argued that laboratory courses are costly in relation to their value. Moreover, effective measurement of student learning in the laboratory is an area requiring further investigation. The present study set out to examine learning outcomes by measuring students' academic performance and their skill in writing research proposals and investigated students' views about laboratory courses through interviews. Comparisons were made between students taking lectures only (control group) and students enrolled in both lecture and laboratory courses (experimental group). A total of 78 undergraduate students participated in the study. Stepwise discriminant analysis, analysis of covariance, and multidimensional scaling were used to analyse the data. Results showed that students in the experimental group did not perform as well as students in the control group in examination questions that required rote memorisation but they performed better than their counterparts in classification of species and in essay writing. In addition, in terms of research study design, proposals written by students in the experimental group were not only of higher quality but also more consistent in quality than those written by students in the control group. Implications for curriculum design and future research are described with respect to the innovative measurements and analytical methods we used to evaluate laboratory learning outcomes, the role of laboratory courses in biology teaching, and students' learning styles.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173-179
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Biological Education
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Nov 15


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

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