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In a study reported in PERC 2004 the authors described how introductory physics labs in which students design their own experiments help them develop scientific abilities. These include the ability to design an experiment to solve a problem, to collect and analyze data and to communicate the details of the experimental procedure. The goal of the present study is to investigate the social aspect of student learning in these labs: whether students' expectations are consistent with the goals of the labs, whether student assessment of their learning in the labs matches the goals, and whether students perceive the labs as helpful in learning useful skills.
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