Staff profiles

Project lead
Dr Dino Spagnoli
Lecturer/Coordinator of First Year Studies in Chemistry and Biochemistry
School of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Team members
Dr Tristan Clemons, Dr Michael Wheatley

Project outline

This project seeks to develop and evaluate an online interactive learning activity for chemistry undergraduate students that acts as a pre-laboratory activity for an inquiry-oriented (IO) chemistry laboratory. The project builds on concepts of IO learning to prepare students, in a safe, online environment, for an upcoming practical laboratory. The project takes inspiration from the 'Choose your own adventure' genre of books, in which readers make choices that determine the outcome of the plot. In this chemistry unit, students make chemical choices in virtual laboratory situations where such choices may not be available in an actual laboratory due to constraints of time, cost or safety.

Results of students' decisions will be presented as short video clips, with explanations presented through video and animation. Students will be encouraged to explore alternate pathways, without penalty, and receive immediate feedback on their choices. This pre- laboratory activity will help students develop problem solving, improve digital literacy and increase employability skills. Moreover, staff can track the choices that students make, assisting staff and demonstrators to highlight common misconceptions and problems that students are experiencing about the core concepts. Armed with this knowledge staff can make adjustments to their teaching in the laboratory to enhance the learning of the students.

Documentation of this online learning platform will be made available for other areas of Science to use in their laboratory programs.

Project findings

The project successfully developed two interactive videos which were used in two large first year chemistry units. Online questionnaires and focus group interviews with students and demonstrators were used to evaluate the innovation. While the interactive videos did prepare students for the laboratory it was difficult to determine if it prepared them for the lab in a more effective manner than the traditional passive online video. However the project team still believe that adding a level of interaction to a video will help students to further engage to make decisions and critically think about their activity
Over time the team expect that the project will deliver the desired benefits. This will also involve staff becoming more accustomed with the technology available to them and there an advance in current software is required. Currently the current analytics included in YouTube does not allow staff to review individual student responses.


  • Conference Proceeding (E2): Spagnoli, D., Maisey, S.J., Clemons, T.D., Man, N.Y., Wills, S., Awidi, I.T., Paynter, M.G. 2016, 'Using Technology to Develop Transferable Skills and Enhance the Laboratory Experience in First Year Chemistry', Australian Conference on Science and Mathematics Education, Sydney, NSW: UniServe Science, NA, pp. 126-127
  • Poster Presentation at The Australian Conference on Science & Mathematics (ACSME) conference in Brisbane 2016.
  • Presentation at the WA Teaching & Learning Forum, Curtin University 2016, Perth.
  • Manuscripts in preparation for submission:Development and Evaluation of Interactive Online Pre-Laboratory Videos in a First Year Undergraduate Chemistry Unit, Dino Spagnoli, Nikki Y. T. Man, Siobhan Wills Isaiah T. Awidi, Mark Paynter and Tristan D. Clemons (in preparation).

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