June 13, 2010


I have finally finished now!

and I have to say I didn't think I'd have so much fun doing it, I got to learn about so many philosophers who have contributed to the practise of teaching.

I found that there are numerous methods to teachings, all because each individual student has a different way of learning. The human brain is fascinating maze of electric connections and this must be constantly practised in order to use it.

I want to thank three people who have helped me greatly with this project; Dr. Paul Taylor, ruth Mewis and Danny Wilding.

So that's it, hopefully the project is of good merit, but lets see what happens.

June 09, 2010

The write–up

So I've final started my write up project, which is in for the 14th June.

So right now I am doing the research for it, I have found some interesting reads, that highlight the pedagogy art of teaching.

Hopefully I will get an ample amount done and so have it done by the weekend.

May 31, 2010

first qualitative data analysis

So after 8 hours of just pausing and writing I have done the first transcribing of the 3rds years, well the first group of 3rd years, talking about labs in chemistry.

It was long and painful, took almost 16 pages of writing and I have to say I admire researches even more, there are so many ways that the human voice changes to imitate what a person is feeling and to have notations for all that is not an easy feat.

I used the Forrester method from his paper:

A guide to conversation analysis

so what were the results that hit me hard...

Well I found out that labs are there for people who have a different way of thinking, these are the doers, rather than the people who can just absorb information like a sponge ( or even like bounty paper towels, sorry bad joke)

I also learnt that chemists like tutorials and benefit more from the demonstrators that the actual lecturers.

The subject area that labs helps to demonstrate the most is physical labs as you are actually using the equations rather than regurgitate the derivatives, so just like maths, the more you practise the better.

The most certain fact is that chemists are complaining about missing glassware and the new labs...maybe I shouldn't put that in my report...

Oh well, just got 1st years to collect and then I can start writing my report, 15 pages in a week with exams... possible???

May 20, 2010


After a brief discussion with Ruth Mewis, I then had a meeting with Paul Taylor and Danny Wilding.

We looked at the data of the questionnaires and these then lead to potential questions I could ask focus groups. Later on that night, with the help of academia access, I sent out a mass-email asking people to be part of my focus group. I got instant replies, although they were from 3rd years, all of them that I knew.

Nevertheless I complied a list of questions to ask my potential 'victims', and borrow dictaphone from the reinvention centre.

Armed with my Dictaphone and sheet of questions i began the hunt for 3rd year chemists fresh from macrolabs. As it was sunny outside, I automatically hunted down 4 pure chemists and, with there permission, which I obtained, I probed them about chemistry.

Most of the chemists argued that labs did not actually help in understanding any of the theories they have learnt, but they did enjoy them. Of all the labs that might have helped, they enjoyed the physical side, as it allowed them to use the calculations they might have learnt.

All of the third years unanimously decided that labs should be structured with labs as just learning theory was pointless, 'as if learning just to pass the exam'

Anyways once I get more information about the full conversation, after the transcribes, I can write all about it...but already it is looking like pretty good stuff.

May 15, 2010

When Ruth Mewis came…

This Friday was the busiest Friday I have ever had, I can see why TGIs (thank go its Friday) are so successful. Have you noticed everything you need to do, boils down to Friday.

Anyways Friday was the start of my Physical labs, where I wondered around aimlessly, trying to get to grips with the new labs and my project and had a meeting with Ruth Mewis.

Ruth had a meeting in Coventry university and this gave me a chance to meet her and get more insight into what I am dealing with. And honestly I did find some interesting things; there have been limited papers published on teaching practises in university and those that have been published have been in on the physics department. So I am hoping my paper will be of some use, since we all know physics labs are different to chemistry labs...for one we wear the cooler of the attires!

So I handed her the surveys I did, and she will hopefully give me feedback on them by this weekend. Then, since I missed my appointment on Friday, I will meet Danny Wilding on Monday, so I can move on to my next bulk of questions to ask. This, reading from all the journals, will be the toughest challenge; there is not that much information on how to analyse qualitative data, and it is very biased AND I will have to record every transcript...good luck for whoever is marking my paper, the appendix will be long!!

Also I have spoken to Peter Scott, who is in charge of this module, and he has informed me that, since I have no practical chemistry in my paper, I can write it as a psychology paper, so best just on with it I guess.

May 09, 2010

Quantative summary

So I've finally summed up all the data for all the three years and have found some amazing results.

Moving up from the different years, students' ability to understand the relevance of labs is astounding. The first years had inconsistent data, the second years were getting more correlated and finally the 3rd years were pretty much consistent.

I can't make full judgements yet, but as far as the project is going, it is definitely interesting findings. I can't wait to start one-on-one talks, hope I haven't breached any ethical issues. 

May 08, 2010

Quantitative analysis

As I analysis the data I've collected I found some astonishing results.

even though my hypothesis was to look at ' if  labs are useful, for students, to understand theories of chemistry, I had always suspected that they would be. However my data, from my survey I did begged to differ. Students found labs were not correlated to any of the lectures and often made them even more confused. Most students were not prepared to work independently and found it daunting if ever in that position.

I can not wait for the field work now, and being able to talk to students one-on-one, just to see what exactly their reasons and thoughts are about this point.

Though I feel like I should mention some chemistry into my final short project write-up, otherwise the academics  marking the paper will be very confused...I'll just slip in some NaOH and some catecholamine into it.

May 05, 2010

questionnaires to the 1st years


Yesterday, after bank holiday Monday, I took the plunge and did a bit of public speaking.

10am hosted a 1st year lecture taught by Prof. Rob Deeth, and as I had already e-mailed him about doing a survey in his lectures, I now felt complied to keep my word. So at 9am I hit the library for some heavy photocopying, which after £10 worth of photocopying and two broken photocopiers, I was ready to tackle the first years.

As I waited for go into the lecture, nostalgia kicked in, I wanted to not have to worry about revising and go to top b every Monday! I also wanted to walk into a lecture 20 minutes late and make it seem cool, for us mere 3rd years that is just plain stupidity ' can't believe you missed vital information, and I am SO not giving you my notes'

Anyways the lecture was a success, must thanks to Professor Rob Deeth for allowing that, and I got about 57 questionnaires back. Now I am in the process of analysising the data and have to e-mail Ruth Mewis about the results tonight. The process is long and strenuous with numerous cups of tea ( one of the many signs of old age)

On Friday I plan to invade both the 2nd year lecture, which thank goodness that Dr. Vas Stavros has agreed to, and the 3rd year inorganic labs, which hopefully Dr Andrew Dove would allow as well. 

On top of this I spent the whole yesterday reading about George Mead and his outlook on scientific knowledge, two books on research methods in sociology and other prominent people in the field.

so anyways back to the survey, and more research...

April 30, 2010

meeting: 30/04/2010

Third term has started!!

I know this, because  now there are no spaces left in the library, no, even 9am is too late. And so I am continuing my short project on 'Howdoes physical labs help undergraduates in understanding the theoretical concepts of physical science'.

I went to see Paul Taylor today and he introduced me to a woman called Ruth Mewis, who is a postgraduate student in Leeds University. She is doing her Masters' project on a similar topic.

This was an ample opportunity work along side someone who had so much knowledge and research breathe that it would be silly to pass that up.

Anyways Ruth had already complied a quantitative questionnaire for students, generally aimed at 1st and 3rd years. So my task was to print hard copies of these and distribute these out to all the years and hopefully get some interesting responses. After this I would see if the questionnaires flagged up any urging points, which then I would further dwell into using qualitative research.

So the plan is set out,I have asked Rob Deeth if I could join him in his 2nd year class to hand out these questionnaires, as for the 1st years, I can easily locate them using Celcat.

The only problem is the courage to stand in front of 100 people per lecture and tell students about it, half of them are taller than me, so intimidation is definitely high.

So now for the weekend I have to assemble a methodology for my write up, which by the way is worth 50%, and to build up the courage to do public speaking- Bring on the Dale Carnegie books!

April 03, 2010

The intial progression

So exams finished and Easter holidays started, this means its time for another blog entry. I have to be honest, I have not been very consistent, so my challenge this Easter holidays, or what is left of it, is to blog my progress every week, maybe even more.

I have started to read a book called; ' Research Methods for Social Psychology ' by Dana S.Dunn ( Wiley-Blackwell 2009), yes I am going to use the blogs as my bibliography backup.

The book is quite interesting and I am just getting my teeth into them, as the expression goes. I will hopefully visit the library once more for a more in-depth search for more relevant books and then hopefully during the last week, I will be ready for a test run. Although I want to do a pre-test run and then a pilot, of the questionnaires.

Hopefully Dr. Paul Taylor will forward me the PowerPoint he did on undergrad resarch and then i can structure my project more, because right now, I am still in the mist of confusion as to what the end product should be.

Anyways hopefully with further reading I will be safely guided to the destination.


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