A development of criteria for the preparation of a Grade XII chemistry laboratory manual

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Harder, Frank Jacob
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This study gleans from related areas of education criteria that may be useful in constructing a chemistry laboratory manual. Its survey begins with the broad aims of general education and passes through ever-narrowing fields: secondary education, science education, chemistry education, to laboratory instruction in chemistry. The basic aim of education in the western nations is training for participation in a democratic society. This training takes the form of a modification of individual growth, both from the social and egoistic viewpoint. Historical evidence suggests that the social viewpoint has been neglected. Involved are factual knowledge, skills, habits, attitudes, and ideals. At the secondary school level, the emphasis is on attitudes. Science education including chemistry, contributes by its emphasis on the scientific attitude. Chemistry makes its unique contribution by presenting sub-surface phenomena of sufficiently subtle a nature to permit the development of discriminating enquiry. Discriminating enquiry requires abstract thinking. In order to emphasize this, the aims of chemistry education have been stated at three increasingly abstract intellectual levels: (a) An understanding of the composition of matter and the changes it undergoes, and the manner in which this knowledge aids man in the control of his environment. b) A revelation of the organization in chemical change. (c) An appreciation of the elusive nature of truth, and original cause, and an appreciation of the power of directed imagination. Laboratory education in chemistry serves to provide concrete raw data which to manipulate according to the scientific method; it also serves to broaden the sensory impact of a learning situation. It should employ the simplest situations and skills in order not to confuse its main functions. This study surveys several current chemstry laboratory manuals to discover what is common practice. From such common practice a number of criteria pertaining to format and content arise. Among the more significant are the following: (a) Manuals are commonly of the fill-in type emphasizing individual performance, (b) For an experiment the object is clearly stated, the method is fully and precisely prescribed, any necessary preview of theory is provided. The emphasis is on clarification of principles. The culmination of this study is an application of the various criteria in the construction of a laboratory manual, which is included in the appendix to the study.