Limits...
Effects of using structured templates for recalling chemistry experiments.

Willoughby C, Logothetis TA, Frey JG - J Cheminform (2016)

Bottom Line: In this paper we report on the results of a set of studies investigating the effects of different template designs on the recording of experiments by undergraduate students and academic researchers.The results indicate that using structured templates to write up experiments does make a significant difference to the information that is recalled and recorded.Our results showed that using structured templates can improve the completeness of the experiment context information captured but can also cause a loss of personal elements of the experiment experience when compared with allowing the researcher to structure their own record.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Faculty of Natural and Environmental Sciences, University of Southampton, Southampton, SO17 1BJ UK.

ABSTRACT

Background: The way that we recall information is dependent upon both the knowledge in our memories and the conditions under which we recall the information. Electronic Laboratory Notebooks can provide a structured interface for the capture of experiment records through the use of forms and templates. These templates can be useful by providing cues to help researchers to remember to record particular aspects of their experiment, but they may also constrain the information that is recorded by encouraging them to record only what is asked for. It is therefore unknown whether using structured templates for capturing experiment records will have positive or negative effects on the quality and usefulness of the records for assessment and future use. In this paper we report on the results of a set of studies investigating the effects of different template designs on the recording of experiments by undergraduate students and academic researchers.

Results: The results indicate that using structured templates to write up experiments does make a significant difference to the information that is recalled and recorded. These differences have both positive and negative effects, with templates prompting the capture of specific information that is otherwise forgotten, but also apparently losing some of the personal elements of the experiment experience such as observations and explanations. Other unexpected effects were seen with templates that can change the information that is captured, but also interfere with the way an experiment is conducted.

Conclusions: Our results showed that using structured templates can improve the completeness of the experiment context information captured but can also cause a loss of personal elements of the experiment experience when compared with allowing the researcher to structure their own record. The results suggest that interfaces for recording information about chemistry experiments, whether paper-based questionnaires or templates in Electronic Laboratory Notebooks, can be an effective way to improve the quality of experiment write-ups, but that care needs to be taken to ensure that the correct cues are provided.Graphical abstractScientists have traditionally recorded their research in paper notebooks, a format that provides great flexibility for capturing information. In contrast, Electronic Laboratory Notebooks frequently make use of forms or structured templates for capturing experiment records. Structured templates can provide cues that can improve record quality by increasing the amount of information captured and encouraging consistency. However, using the wrong cues can lead to a loss of personal elements of the experiment experience and frustrate users. This image shows two participants from one of our studies recording their experiment using a computer-based template.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

Explanations and Observations within and outside the experiment procedure in Study 2. The bar charts in this figure show a comparison between the total numbers of explanations and observations recorded as part of the experiment procedure and outside of the experiment procedure in each condition. In contrast to Study 1, the numbers of explanations are very similar across all three conditions, although there are significantly more included outside of the experiment procedure as before. There are a similar number of observations recorded in the No Template and Titles Template condition within the experiment procedure, but more included overall in the Titles Template condition with additions to the other template sections. Overall the highest number of observations are seen in the Profile Template condition, although very few of these are associated with the experiment procedure; the majority were included in association with the “What observations did you make in the experiment?” cue
© Copyright Policy - OpenAccess
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License 1 - License 2
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4759737&req=5

Fig11: Explanations and Observations within and outside the experiment procedure in Study 2. The bar charts in this figure show a comparison between the total numbers of explanations and observations recorded as part of the experiment procedure and outside of the experiment procedure in each condition. In contrast to Study 1, the numbers of explanations are very similar across all three conditions, although there are significantly more included outside of the experiment procedure as before. There are a similar number of observations recorded in the No Template and Titles Template condition within the experiment procedure, but more included overall in the Titles Template condition with additions to the other template sections. Overall the highest number of observations are seen in the Profile Template condition, although very few of these are associated with the experiment procedure; the majority were included in association with the “What observations did you make in the experiment?” cue

Mentions: There are some similarities and differences between Study 1 and Study 2 with the inclusion of explanations and observations in the experiment report. The average number of explanations included by each student is very similar across all the conditions, although as seen in Study 1, and can be seen in Fig. 11, fewer explanations are associated with the procedural information for the two template conditions compared to the No Template condition. In Study 2, the procedural information for the experiments is much more similar between the Titles Template condition and the No Template condition in Study 2. Similar numbers of observations are recorded in the ‘Step-by-step’ section of the template, with additional observations recorded in the Discussion and Conclusion sections, as shown in Fig. 11. The Profile Template condition has the highest number of observations, although very few of these are recorded within the procedure of the experiment; most are recorded in association with the cue ‘What observations did you make in the experiment?’ as might be expected.Fig. 11


Effects of using structured templates for recalling chemistry experiments.

Willoughby C, Logothetis TA, Frey JG - J Cheminform (2016)

Explanations and Observations within and outside the experiment procedure in Study 2. The bar charts in this figure show a comparison between the total numbers of explanations and observations recorded as part of the experiment procedure and outside of the experiment procedure in each condition. In contrast to Study 1, the numbers of explanations are very similar across all three conditions, although there are significantly more included outside of the experiment procedure as before. There are a similar number of observations recorded in the No Template and Titles Template condition within the experiment procedure, but more included overall in the Titles Template condition with additions to the other template sections. Overall the highest number of observations are seen in the Profile Template condition, although very few of these are associated with the experiment procedure; the majority were included in association with the “What observations did you make in the experiment?” cue
© Copyright Policy - OpenAccess
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License 1 - License 2
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4759737&req=5

Fig11: Explanations and Observations within and outside the experiment procedure in Study 2. The bar charts in this figure show a comparison between the total numbers of explanations and observations recorded as part of the experiment procedure and outside of the experiment procedure in each condition. In contrast to Study 1, the numbers of explanations are very similar across all three conditions, although there are significantly more included outside of the experiment procedure as before. There are a similar number of observations recorded in the No Template and Titles Template condition within the experiment procedure, but more included overall in the Titles Template condition with additions to the other template sections. Overall the highest number of observations are seen in the Profile Template condition, although very few of these are associated with the experiment procedure; the majority were included in association with the “What observations did you make in the experiment?” cue
Mentions: There are some similarities and differences between Study 1 and Study 2 with the inclusion of explanations and observations in the experiment report. The average number of explanations included by each student is very similar across all the conditions, although as seen in Study 1, and can be seen in Fig. 11, fewer explanations are associated with the procedural information for the two template conditions compared to the No Template condition. In Study 2, the procedural information for the experiments is much more similar between the Titles Template condition and the No Template condition in Study 2. Similar numbers of observations are recorded in the ‘Step-by-step’ section of the template, with additional observations recorded in the Discussion and Conclusion sections, as shown in Fig. 11. The Profile Template condition has the highest number of observations, although very few of these are recorded within the procedure of the experiment; most are recorded in association with the cue ‘What observations did you make in the experiment?’ as might be expected.Fig. 11

Bottom Line: In this paper we report on the results of a set of studies investigating the effects of different template designs on the recording of experiments by undergraduate students and academic researchers.The results indicate that using structured templates to write up experiments does make a significant difference to the information that is recalled and recorded.Our results showed that using structured templates can improve the completeness of the experiment context information captured but can also cause a loss of personal elements of the experiment experience when compared with allowing the researcher to structure their own record.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Faculty of Natural and Environmental Sciences, University of Southampton, Southampton, SO17 1BJ UK.

ABSTRACT

Background: The way that we recall information is dependent upon both the knowledge in our memories and the conditions under which we recall the information. Electronic Laboratory Notebooks can provide a structured interface for the capture of experiment records through the use of forms and templates. These templates can be useful by providing cues to help researchers to remember to record particular aspects of their experiment, but they may also constrain the information that is recorded by encouraging them to record only what is asked for. It is therefore unknown whether using structured templates for capturing experiment records will have positive or negative effects on the quality and usefulness of the records for assessment and future use. In this paper we report on the results of a set of studies investigating the effects of different template designs on the recording of experiments by undergraduate students and academic researchers.

Results: The results indicate that using structured templates to write up experiments does make a significant difference to the information that is recalled and recorded. These differences have both positive and negative effects, with templates prompting the capture of specific information that is otherwise forgotten, but also apparently losing some of the personal elements of the experiment experience such as observations and explanations. Other unexpected effects were seen with templates that can change the information that is captured, but also interfere with the way an experiment is conducted.

Conclusions: Our results showed that using structured templates can improve the completeness of the experiment context information captured but can also cause a loss of personal elements of the experiment experience when compared with allowing the researcher to structure their own record. The results suggest that interfaces for recording information about chemistry experiments, whether paper-based questionnaires or templates in Electronic Laboratory Notebooks, can be an effective way to improve the quality of experiment write-ups, but that care needs to be taken to ensure that the correct cues are provided.Graphical abstractScientists have traditionally recorded their research in paper notebooks, a format that provides great flexibility for capturing information. In contrast, Electronic Laboratory Notebooks frequently make use of forms or structured templates for capturing experiment records. Structured templates can provide cues that can improve record quality by increasing the amount of information captured and encouraging consistency. However, using the wrong cues can lead to a loss of personal elements of the experiment experience and frustrate users. This image shows two participants from one of our studies recording their experiment using a computer-based template.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus