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The communication of laboratory investigations by university entrants

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


  • B Campbell
  • L Kaunda
  • S Allie
  • A Buffler
  • F Lubben


Publication details

JournalJournal of Research in Science Teaching
DatePublished - Oct 2000
Issue number8
Number of pages15
Pages (from-to)839-853
Original languageEnglish


The purpose of the study reported here was to analyse the ways in which unversity entrant science students carry out and communicate experimental activities and to identify a model to explain characteristic communication practices. The study was prompted by a need to inform the development of an introductory laboratory course. The students studied shared an educational background characterised by a lack of experience with laboratory work and scientific writing. Seven groups of three students were studied. The investigative strategies of these groups were observed. Laboratory reports were used to identify the ways in which students communicated these strategies. Data are presented that show a discrepancy between the strategies used and those reported. The results suggest that: (i) students' perceptions of the purpose of a laboratory task influence their decisions on what to report; (ii) understandings of laboratory procedures greatly influence their decision on what to report and on how much detail to include in a report and; (iii) knowledge of discourse rules contributes to effective reporting. It is concluded that students' communication of an investigation results from the differential operation of various perceptual filters that determine both the procedural and discourse elements of their reports. It is recommended that the communication of science should be taught explicitly and alongside the procedures and concepts of science. (C) 2000 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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