Experimentation is a Scientist’s Highest Calling:

I consider myself an education innovator. From the very beginning, I have eschewed the use of textbook experiments in my labs. Instead, I write a handout for each lab that adapted a published procedure to the specifications that I felt best suited our facilities and our students. That way, each year I write suggestions in the margins of the lab handout that I will incorporate into next year’s handout. My intention is that the experiment evolves each year, to a more concise student-friendly venture. Let’s face it, I’m a scientist and happen to employ the scientific method in my pedagogical efforts. I like to try things to “see what happens” both while working on the lab bench and while teaching a course. I can always adjust my hypothesis if things don’t work out as planned. Believe me, in both bench science and pedagogy one has to continually adjust the original hypothesis! Fortunately, education is a game of second chances for both students and professors. If we don’t get it right the first time around, we can always come back at it from another angle with the benefit of experience. Not every line of work is so generous to give you second (and multiple) chances to learn from your mistakes. That doesn’t mean that instructors should be deliberately sloppy, it just means that we have some freedom to explore and experiment with our pedagogical approach. Science instructors take the adage “Live and Learn” very seriously.


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