In this article I will describe the development of a new laboratory course in introductory chemistry at university level. As opposed to traditional lab courses which concentrate on the learning of factual knowledge and craftsmanship for its own sake, this new course aims at a competence-based learning of factual and procedural knowledge. As the first step in the development of a new course, I will briefly outline the considerations on the nature of contemporary society and essential competencies needed to get on in this society as the basis for the course, and then give an overview of former research and developmental projects with focus on competence-based teaching in a lab work setting. The next step is to describe the first edition of the laboratory course and to analyse it in terms of the relationship between the teacher?s intended objectives and the students? perceived learning outcome. A range of problems and questions arise from this analysis, and with these problems in mind ? and with findings from research on teachers? views on laboratory teaching ? I will move on to the third step in the development of a competence-based course; a suggestion for an improved edition of the same lab course. This should have some general features: ? The course is structured with a theoretical and technical introduction followed by the students working on their own projects in groups of two or three. ? The students and the involved teachers negotiate a ?didactical contract?, which points out preferred teaching form and the important learning goals of the course. ? Peer reviews and student talks as assessment is added to the traditional assessment forms. ? The pedagogic of teaching in the lab is given high priority. All members of the teaching staff must at least be aware of the elements in the didactical contract and try to teach accordingly. Finally it is important to stress that this suggestion for an improved edition is not the final description but rather a step in the direction of developing a chemistry education that balances the triangle between contemporary society, the students of today and chemistry in it self.
University Science and Mathematics Education ? Challenges and Possibilities, 2007