The Role of Technology in Undergraduate Bioscience Laboratory Learning: Bridging the Gap between Theory and Practice.

Shivadas Sivasubramaniam, Sarah Rayment, Jennifer Ruth Evans, Mike Coffey , Karen Moss, Sandra Kirk

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Integration of technology is widespread in laboratory teaching, whose purpose includes building theoretical understanding and practical skills. How second-year bioscience undergraduate students at a UK university use technology to construct their understanding of laboratory-based topics was investigated using a concurrent think-aloud protocol in the laboratory, followed by semi-structured interviews. Analysis of think-aloud data used socially shared metacognitive coding since students may co-construct their understanding in these collaborative spaces. This analysis demonstrated that participants used technology within the laboratory either as a tool to conduct their experiment or, as a source of information to help them understand, apply or perform their experimental task. Semi-structured interviews demonstrated that students integrated technology into all aspects of their laboratory learning. Eight out of the ten participants described using technology to help them make connections between theory and practice as part of post-laboratory activities such as analysing or conducting further research on the topic. A survey of UK bioscience undergraduate modules found that 22% of modules did not use post-laboratory activities, suggesting that more scaffolding of post-laboratory activities could provide bioscience students with greater integration of practical and theoretical understanding and consequently meaningful laboratory learning.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)766
JournalScience Education
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jul 2023


  • protocol-driven laboratory; practical skills; post-laboratory activities; reflection; think aloud; metacognition

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