The effectiveness of laboratory instruction in elementary science courses should not be measured by how interesting the students find labs, but by whether or not the labs reinforce concepts in the students' minds, Frank H. Westheimer, Loeb Professor of Chemistry, said last night.
Westheimer participated in a panel discussion on laboratory instruction with R. Victor Jones, McKay Professor of Applied Physics, and William R. McClure, assistant professor of biochemistry.
Many students learn chemical concepts best by observing them experimentally, and for these students laboratory work is as important as lectures or textbooks, Westheimer said.
Westheimer said, however, that elementary courses such as Chemistry 20 contain many students who do not plan to pursue careers in chemistry, and therefore do not benefit directly from the techniques learned in the laboratory.
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