swim, chem, baseball, I talk with my hands

The Lab Process

Ugh – how I truly hate grading lab reports. To point, if there was one aspect of the course that I would put off until absolutely necessary it would be the evaluation of lab reporting. I am in the middle of trying something new this semester, students post lab results on a Tumblr blog, and this has been a mixed bag of results so far.

On the one hand, it had freed both the students and the teacher from the heinous process of overly-structured lab notebooks. Nothing kills a lab, and I mean NOTHING, like an ornate lab formal lab report. While the guidelines are clear they are infused with countless small details that are easily overlooked, especially by a student who has six other classes to attend. (As a side note: I am always startled by this fact when I think of it in the abstract, objective way that is detached from my insulated world.)

But it truly IS important to learn how to operate as a lab scientist and leaving this overt coaching out of the class process leads to such wide variation that reading whatever is posted becomes almost unbearable. Maybe the solution is to have a broad rubric which makes it easier to grade holistically. But what would that look like?


  • Data is anything directly recorded, including units, organized in a table
  • No calculations or interpretations or conversions of any kind allowed
  • Show one example of each type of calculation using data from the lab
  • Title, Formula, Number Example
  • Then summarize all calculation results in a table
  • if you plot a graph then this is mentioned in this section
  • discussion of results is included here
  • what are the trends? what did you expect? how did it differ from your results?
  • what did you conclude from the lab? (be specific)
For examples of what this might look like please see the posted (full lab report) example

One comment on “The Lab Process

  1. Pingback: Physics Honors – Week 10 « Soxteaching: Physics, Chemistry, Technology

Comments are closed.


This entry was posted on 2011-11-04 by in Chemistry, CLab, Labs, Physics Honors, SHP and tagged .


%d bloggers like this: