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This work examines and evaluates the implementation of inquiry oriented learning (IOL), as an alternative to the traditional ‘recipe-style’ expository laboratory teaching method, with the aim of enhancing students’ experience and engagement in chemistry laboratory practicals. Small groups of students in the first year of their undergraduate degree were assigned a practical problem and were required to devise an appropriate experimental protocol that would allow them to successfully execute the assigned task. With a response rate of 64% (47/73), over 80% of respondents agreed that IOL based practicals were interesting/enjoyable and created awareness about the challenges that researchers in chemistry experience. Only 50% of the respondents agreed that they felt confident initially with the open-ended nature of IOL activities; 45% felt that more appropriate background information on the practical should have been provided. However, the level of guidance provided by the demonstrators was considered appropriate (70% agreement). While 70% agreed that IOL activities enhanced their skills in investigative/critical thinking, use of laboratory equipment and team work, only 55% agreed that their observation/recording and data analysis skills were developed and that increased understanding of the course content was achieved. Whilst the implementation and evaluation of IOL in chemistry practicals is ongoing, there is no doubt that students perceive that they learned or practised a range of graduat

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Open Access Journal Article

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Open Access