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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

Comparison of the capture of information specifically requested in Study 2. This bar chart shows the percentage of students that recorded information that we specifically requested in the Titles Template compared to the other two conditions: Aims, Reaction Schemes, Relative Molecular Masses, and Results information. The results are similar to Study 1: all the information types are more likely to be recorded in the Titles Template condition where they are cued. In the Profile Template, only Aims and Results are specifically cued and can be seen to be recorded. It can be seen that using ‘What reactions were involved in the experiment?’ did not result in the capture of reaction scheme or RMMs in the Profile Template condition
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Fig9: Comparison of the capture of information specifically requested in Study 2. This bar chart shows the percentage of students that recorded information that we specifically requested in the Titles Template compared to the other two conditions: Aims, Reaction Schemes, Relative Molecular Masses, and Results information. The results are similar to Study 1: all the information types are more likely to be recorded in the Titles Template condition where they are cued. In the Profile Template, only Aims and Results are specifically cued and can be seen to be recorded. It can be seen that using ‘What reactions were involved in the experiment?’ did not result in the capture of reaction scheme or RMMs in the Profile Template condition

Mentions: In common with the first study, the template conditions do also have an effect on the topics that are recorded in the questionnaires. As shown in Fig. 9, some information is rarely or never recorded in the No Template condition compared, particularly compared to the Titles Template condition where the specific information is cued. Almost all of the students included a reaction scheme in the Titles Template condition (although they take different forms compared to the paper-based version), but none of the students included a reaction scheme in the No Template or Profile Templates conditions, despite the fact that the Profile Template provided the cue ‘What reactions were involved in the experiment?’. Instead more background theoretical information about the experiment or the reaction name were included. Only in the Titles Template condition were any relative molecular masses included with a similar proportion to Study 1, with one student admitting to not remembering them. In common with Study 1 more information about the results was captured in the templates, such as the actual analysis or physical appearance of the product, in addition to the product yield.Fig. 9


Effects of using structured templates for recalling chemistry experiments.

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

Comparison of the capture of information specifically requested in Study 2. This bar chart shows the percentage of students that recorded information that we specifically requested in the Titles Template compared to the other two conditions: Aims, Reaction Schemes, Relative Molecular Masses, and Results information. The results are similar to Study 1: all the information types are more likely to be recorded in the Titles Template condition where they are cued. In the Profile Template, only Aims and Results are specifically cued and can be seen to be recorded. It can be seen that using ‘What reactions were involved in the experiment?’ did not result in the capture of reaction scheme or RMMs in the Profile Template condition
© Copyright Policy - OpenAccess
Related In: Results  -  Collection

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

Fig9: Comparison of the capture of information specifically requested in Study 2. This bar chart shows the percentage of students that recorded information that we specifically requested in the Titles Template compared to the other two conditions: Aims, Reaction Schemes, Relative Molecular Masses, and Results information. The results are similar to Study 1: all the information types are more likely to be recorded in the Titles Template condition where they are cued. In the Profile Template, only Aims and Results are specifically cued and can be seen to be recorded. It can be seen that using ‘What reactions were involved in the experiment?’ did not result in the capture of reaction scheme or RMMs in the Profile Template condition
Mentions: In common with the first study, the template conditions do also have an effect on the topics that are recorded in the questionnaires. As shown in Fig. 9, some information is rarely or never recorded in the No Template condition compared, particularly compared to the Titles Template condition where the specific information is cued. Almost all of the students included a reaction scheme in the Titles Template condition (although they take different forms compared to the paper-based version), but none of the students included a reaction scheme in the No Template or Profile Templates conditions, despite the fact that the Profile Template provided the cue ‘What reactions were involved in the experiment?’. Instead more background theoretical information about the experiment or the reaction name were included. Only in the Titles Template condition were any relative molecular masses included with a similar proportion to Study 1, with one student admitting to not remembering them. In common with Study 1 more information about the results was captured in the templates, such as the actual analysis or physical appearance of the product, in addition to the product yield.Fig. 9

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