Handout 4/1: Workshop Four: Problem Solving: Planning Experiments Planning Defining the Problem Students should be able to use information provided about the aims of the investigation, or experiment, to identify the key variables. They should use their knowledge and understanding of the topic under consideration to make a quantitative, testable prediction of the likely outcome of the experiment.
Methods The proposed experimental procedure should be workable. Given that the apparatus has been assembled appropriately, the procedure should allow data to be collected without undue difficulty. There should be a description, including diagrams, of how the experiment should be performed and how the key variables will be controlled. Equipment, of a level of precision appropriate for the measurements to be made, and quantities of materials to be used should be specified. The use of control experiments should be considered.
Risk assessment Students should be able to carry out a simple risk assessment of their plan, identifying areas of risk and suggesting suitable safety precautions.
Planning for analysis, conclusions and evaluation Students should be able to describe the main steps by which their results will be analysed in order for valid conclusions to be drawn. This may well include generating a results table and proposing graphical methods for analysing data. They should also propose a scheme for interpreting and evaluating the results and the experimental procedure employed to obtain those results. They should indicate how the outcomes of the experiment will be compared with the original hypothesis.