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Durham University

Department of Chemistry

Publication details for Dr Julieta Litka Milian

Milian, L (2015). Formative Assessment: improving students' experience in the teaching labs. Online Educational Research Journal

Author(s) from Durham


Formative assessment is recognised as one of the most effective ways to help and
promote students’ learning. Students consider laboratory learning to be challenging,
though sometimes it is not appreciated and not recognised as a valuable source of
learning new skills and theory in the physical sciences. In our Advanced Organic
Laboratory students were marked at the end of the course and the only feedback they
received was summative. In pursuit of high marks students often did not enjoy the labs
and although they worked hard they struggled to obtain good scores. In our study a
formative experiment was introduced to the Advanced Organic Laboratory followed by
formative feedback. We monitored the study through focus groups and surveys over
three years. The students welcomed formative practical and feedback because it
enhanced their knowledge and laboratory skills and helped them to enjoy their practical
work in the chemistry lab.