37: Lab Reports

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Today I gave students time to sift through their data and prepare to write their first lab report. It is really nice having laptops for groups in class, especially because the 10 I have combined with 16 in the mini-‘wing’ labs means I easily have enough for all my students in the even that each student needs a computer.

I also wanted to comment on the value of lab reports. There was a conversation on Twitter questioning their value this fall, but I see lots of value in reports. First of all, I think that technical writing skills are important and will be useful for many students later on. Second, I really like that lab reports hit on skills that are difficult to assess otherwise; data interpretation, synthesis, and logical argument leading to a particular conclusion (I even use the word ‘thesis’ since they have been hammered with that term for years; our district actually does a pretty good of having students write across the curriculum). I think that reading a lab report helps me get into the heads of my students easier, as they have to explain reasoning behind their choices.

But oh, the grading!

It’ll probably take me 6+ hours of grading to get through my 35 honors students’ reports, and this is essentially a rough draft; they will revise and turn back in. I think it’s worth it though.

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