"I feel like a real chemist right now": Epistemic affect in the chemistry laboratory

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This study aims to foreground the epistemic and affective character of laboratory work in higher science education by conceptualizing it as epistemic practice, in which students activate their body and mind in discursive processes of proposing, communicating, and evaluating knowledge. On this conceptualization is an emerging construct, ‘epistemic affect,’ which refers to how one feels when engaging with epistemic practices. Several methods were used to provide triangulated evidence for student learning processes and lived experiences in the chemistry laboratory. Students were observed, surveyed, and interviewed using custom protocols based on previously validated works. The empirical materials consist of audio and video recordings of students doing an experiment in analytical chemistry, verbatim transcripts of utterances and non-verbal cues, audio recordings and transcripts of focus group interviews based on excerpts of either the videos or laboratory reports, responses to a questionnaire, as well as instructional artifacts (laboratory manuals, textbooks, and reports). Key findings from the study reveal a range of epistemic emotions experienced by students, including curiosity, frustration, and joy, which are intertwined with their engagement in experimental work and exploration of scientific principles. The study also identifies affective constructs such as confidence, pride, and humility, which contribute to students’ identity development within the context of laboratory-related epistemic practices. These affective experiences are situated in the embodied nature of laboratory work, where failures and mistakes are common, but also serve as opportunities for learning. The research underscores the importance of recognizing and addressing the affective dimensions of learning in the chemistry laboratory. It suggests that fostering positive epistemic emotions and managing negative ones can enhance students’ learning experiences and engagement with science. The study calls for a more holistic approach to chemistry education that acknowledges the role of emotion in laboratory-related epistemic practices.
Original languageEnglish
JournalScience Education
Publication statusSubmitted - Mar 2024

ID: 343237304