Sandi-Urena Webinar 24th October

Our 2018-2019 webinar series continues with Prof Santiago Sandi-Ureña who will give a webinar entitled: Phenomenological characterization of learning in the college chemistry laboratory


Although central to the experience of learning chemistry, the academic laboratory is often a neglected area of teaching and, it could be argued, of research as well. Contemporary educators, researchers, and policy-makers agree lack of research in this field remains an obstacle to advance a discussion based on evidence. Moreover, the little research evidence gathered does not support the assumption that the traditionally structured laboratory that predominates in tertiary chemistry education accomplishes learning objectives that are desirable and significant outcomes for science literacy, e.g. problem solving skills, critical thinking, and experiment design and implementation. Awareness of this apparent contradiction has resulted in a recent surge in research to better understand learning in the laboratory and to support implementation of adequate tertiary education instructional methods. In general, attempts have been made to assess a singular curricular modification more than to understand broader aspects of learning through experimentation. In addition, attempts have drawn data from student cohorts in a single institution and exposed to only an isolated modification. The emphasis continues to be fragmented and stresses instruction over learning. This presentation argues for the need of tertiary-level, subject specific research that shifts from a fragmented and instruction-based emphasis to one that is comprehensive and learning-centred. In doing so, it puts forth the use of qualitative approaches, such as phenomenology, may be better suited to deal with the complexities of learning through experimentation. This work discusses fundamental aspects of phenomenology and exemplary studies that have focused on the learning experiences of students and their instructors across different institutions and laboratory formats. This research looks at the holistic experience of learning in a laboratory environment instead of examining specific instructional styles. Outcomes and implications from this work will be presented.

About Prof Santiago Sandi-Ureña

Upon gaining experience in the industrial sector and as a high school science teacher, both in Costa Rica and the USA, Santiago returned to tertiary education to focus on chemistry education. He has held research positions in the USA and Costa Rica, and since 2016 he is a faculty member with the School of Chemistry at the University of Costa Rica, UCR. Here his teaching focuses on experimental training of first year chemistry majors and efforts to consolidate an undergraduate chemistry research experience. He is also an appointed member of the steering committee charged with the overseeing and re-structuring of the secondary science education programme. Recently, he has engaged in projects to improve science education in rural districts in Southern Costa Rica that lag behind in social and economic development. Current lines of research work include learning in the academic chemistry laboratory, role of conceptualisation and use of representation in chemistry learning, international chemistry education, and effective strategies to promote interest, attention, and participation in large enrolment courses. The perspective gained while working in Costa Rica has rekindled his continuous interest in international chemistry education in a new light. Thus, this has become a focal point of interest and conversation for him. Santiago is member of the international advising committee of Educación Química, a leading multi-lingual chemistry education journal and EduQ (Educació Química, Catalan Chemistry Society).

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