Encouraging students to actively participate during a laboratory class is sometimes a daunting task for teachers. This makes it doubly harder when the activity is something complex and not readily appreciated like in titration of solutions, preparing solutions, etc.
The laboratory class; however is a significant part of learning, and students should have a hands-on training to hone their manual skills, acquire information and the necessary dexterity in the process.
How could you encourage students to participate? Here are some useful tips that you could employ:
1. Before commencing on the procedure, be sure you explain very thoroughly the importance of this to the student. Let him understand that it could come in handy and applicable in daily life. Draw a connection between the activity and its usefulness to him.
2. Motivate in him the curiosity to learn more. Ask leading questions like: “If I add this solution to that, what may happen? ” “A color would be formed in this reaction; wouldn’t it be exciting to learn what color will it be?”
3. Assign him a specific task and let him know that this task is crucial to the success of the experiment. Each student should understand that without them doing each of their assigned task well, then the outcome would be a failure. This would denote that he is someone “needed” by the group. Sometimes, all a student wants is to feel important; that he has something good to contribute to the group.
4. Organize your activity well that everyone would be able to participate. A poorly prepared experiment would not arouse the student’s eagerness to learn.
5. Have specific pointers in each procedure. “Before you transfer the reagent, be sure to check if the beaker is full.” This would make the student sure of what he is doing and would allow him to participate more.
6. Leave some room for creativity and resourcefulness. Don’t give everything in a silver platter though. Let the student venture into the “whys” of things. “Why did the solution bubble?” “What gas had come out of the test tube?” “Can you cite one scenario at home where this principle can occur?”
7. At the end of the laboratory class, make him write his own observations about the activity. Let him evaluate and make recommendations for future activities. This would make him feel that his participation is important. Next time you’ll be conducting another laboratory class, he’ll be motivated to participate more.
Students are like ordinary people, they need to feel they can contribute positively to something to be motivated. Teachers must recognize the fact that students also want to be appreciated. With a positive approach, students could be motivated by teachers to actively participate in a laboratory class.