Performing laboratory experiments in Clinical Chemistry are methods of enhancing the understanding and retention of the principles and theories learned in the lecture portion. It is an integral part of the course. The laboratory experiments however, should be prepared properly to be able to contribute positively to the learning process. An improper performance of the experiment would be worse than having none at all. These are some pointers on how to prepare laboratory experiments in the subject:
1. First, create a title that is appropriate for the procedure to be performed.
The title is usually the topic of the experiment. I.e. Measurement of Calcium or simply Calcium Determination.
Just by reading the title, the students would grasp the procedure that would be done.
2. Establish the objectives of the activity.
Your objectives should be stated clearly and specifically. What do you want to achieve after the student has undergone the process? Don’t say: “After the experiment, the student should have mastery of the topic”. This statement is very broad. State it specifically, like: “After the experiment, the student should be able to perform the procedure accurately.”
To determine if the student indeed has performed it accurately, you must have a checklist in which the step by step process should be checked one by one.
3. Write a brief introduction of the topic.
State why the student has to perform that particular experiment. Mention the importance of the experiment to the subject matter as a whole.
4. List down the materials needed.
This list should be able to guide the student as to what apparatus he should borrow.
5. Write down the procedure in clear and concise terms. Write short lines, not one, long paragraph. Break them down into short sentences, with one instruction per line. You should number them to avoid confusion. You can highlight steps which are important or which need special precautions. If there are hazardous materials to be used. Type the warnings in big, red letters.
Remember to highlight the precautions for the tests.
6. Include a space for the observations and results of the experiment. Allow the students to draw their own conclusions and interpret their results.
7. If there are important illustrations and drawings they should remember, then leave a space for these.
8. Research questions should be answered by the students to encourage them to read.
Ask analytical questions that would enhance their cognitive skills.
9. A checklist should be prepared separately for the procedure itself. This checklist should correspond to the step by step procedure of the laboratory procedure. This will evaluate their psychomotor skills and at the same time will give you an objective approach on how to improve this particular skill.
In preparing laboratory experiments there are two things you should prepare, the laboratory experiment guide and the checklist guide. Always bear in mind that the output of the experiment should match your objectives.