Introducing Quality Control in the Chemistry Teaching Laboratory Using Control Charts

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1.4 CHEMICAL SCIENCES, Analytical chemistry

Publication Details

J. Chem. Educ., 2009, 86 (9), p 1085 DOI: 10.1021/ed086p1085

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Quality control (QC) measures are less prevalent in teaching laboratories than commercial settings possibly owing to a lack of commercial incentives or teaching resources. This article focuses on the use of QC assessment in the analytical techniques of high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and ultraviolet–visible spectroscopy (UV–vis) at undergraduate and master’s level. Data were collected over 2 semesters and the use of limits generated by staff were compared to the limits based on student data. This comparison enabled us to balance the learning of practical laboratory skills with providing sufficient incidences requiring troubleshooting and discussion on quality within the class. The QC limits chosen do not necessarily follow the perceived difficulty of an instrumental procedure. Staff-generated limits proved the most useful for the HPLC experiment, while broader student-based limits were deemed necessary for the simpler UV–vis experiment. Corrected calculations and computer templates were used in later QC charts as calculation errors were found to overshadow the identification of laboratory errors. The unique QC limits for any instrumental practical can be established and fine tuned in the same way as in the examples illustrated here.



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