In Germany, an increasing demand for qualified natural scientists could be observed in the last few years. This demand cannot be covered by the number of graduates in the fields of science and technology. The students’ decreasing interest in scientific subjects can already be recorded during their schooldays. Moreover, international comparative studies, such as PISA and TIMSS, report a need for improvement concerning the scientific literacy of German students. Science education that is often rarely practical and that only has low references to everyday life, is deemed as the main reason for this. School laboratories such as the BeLL Bio (Bergisches Lehr-Lernlabor) at the University of Wuppertal seek to counter this trend by offering experiment-based courses that are authentical and have a close proximity to research. Therefore, within the scope of this research study, bioscientific questions, methods and solution strategies were tested and optimized for use in the experimentbased courses of the BeLL Bio. Amongst other things, different human hypervariable DNA-regions were tested for their suitability for use in the school laboratory. These chromosomal gene sequences can, for example, be used to identify suspects in forensics. Moreover, alternatives were examined to substitute ethidium bromide that is often used in molecular biological laboratories, by a substance that is not carcinogenic. Technical procedures of the experiments could be developed further and be established as methods with a close proximity to research for the school laboratory.
The technically optimized courses “Genetic Fingerprinting”, “Out of Breath” and “A close look at Protozoa” that evolved from this were then evaluated concerning their affective and cognitive efficiency. In the scope of a main study covering 631 students from the upper secondary level, a significant growth in knowledge, a short rise in students’ self concepts concerning their biological capacity and a high authenticity of the laboratory courses could be proofed for all the courses. Moreover, it was possible to compile and evaluate a model of the causal connections between the affective influences at the learning location BeLL Bio. Within the scope of the main study, a theory based and economic questionnaire was developed to analyze the experiment-related perceived selfefficacy (FSWEx). In an ancillary study of 45 students from the upper secondary level, the FSWEx was applied and it could be observed that already a one-time visit to the school laboratory has got the potential to raise the subjective valuation of one’s own practical capacity for experimentation. Moreover, it was possible, within the scope of a study involving 45 biology teachers, to identify clear differences in the perceived self-efficacy between teachers feeling confident concerning practical laboratory work and those that do not feel confident. The present study does not only make a significant contribution to the research into effects at the extra-curricular learning location ‚students‘ laboratory‘, but also to the bioscientific optimization of experiments for courses in school laboratories.