Before arriving at the lab, students need to have read the pre-lab materials. Because of this, students should already know what the lab is about when they get to the lab room. Your lab introduction should therefore be very brief, absolutely no more than 5-10 minutes, where you should mention what the lab is about and any important information that’s needed (for example, a short overview on how to use the equipment, or a brief reminder of how to use Excel to do statistical analysis). At this point you also need to ask students if they have any questions about the pre-lab material, which you then need to answer — which means you should have read the pre-lab materials too! If you find that the students appear clueless, as if they have not read the pre-lab, then your lab intro should be on the longer side (closer to 10 minutes than to 5).
All lab materials (pre-labs, instructions, and the students’ lab reports that you need to grade) can be found through Canvas.
Each lab section will have on the order of 24 students, more or less. This can vary depending on how many students actually register for the class and how many lab sections there are, so your lab may indeed have a much smaller roster. During lab, students work in pairs, and students can choose their own lab partners. If you have any group(s) with toxic dynamics (e.g., they don’t work together, or they’re disruptive, etc), you have the authority to break up the group(s) and reassign students to new groups. Make sure to let Murray know if you’ve done this and which students were involved, so that he’s aware and the issue gets documented.
When students are working on their experiment, you should be walking around the lab room checking on their progress. You should not just sit there and wait for students to call you! Walk around the room, go table to table, look at what students are doing, ask them if they have any questions or need help. Note that just asking them “How’s it going?” tends to not be useful, as students will usually just say “we’re ok”. Instead, ask “what are you working on now?” or some other more direct question. If you notice students doing something wrong, step in and correct them. Ask students why they’re doing X or Y, to explain their reasoning – this helps when they’re doing something wrong but haven’t realized it yet. If you see a student raising their hand to ask for help, go to them as soon as you can. If you notice that two or more group share the same question or encounter the same difficulty, ask everyone to stop what they’re doing, then make way to do an announcement to the whole class to clarify or explain the situation for everyone at the same time.
Make sure that every student is working. Students can divide the work among teammates, but the division of work shouldn’t remain static across several weeks. For example, in one particular week, Person A does the measurements and Person B records them; the following week, they should switch tasks.
Labs count for a total of 15% of a student’s final course grade. Each lab meeting is worth 10 points, which you assign based on the lab report that students submit at the end of the lab. Students must attend the lab section for which they are registered. Note that drinking and eating in the lab is forbidden. Make sure you tell this to your students the first time you meet with them!
At the end of the semester, the lowest lab grade gets dropped. This means that students get a freebie — they can miss ONE lab without penalty. If a student has a documented absence (e.g., a doctor’s note, evidence of participation in a GT-sponsored event, etc), they need to send it to Murray. After documentation has been provided, the student may be able to make up the missed lab according to the make-up policies in the lab policies webpage.
Unexcused/undocumented absences (beyond the one freebie they get) will earn the student a score of zero for the missed lab. To distinguish between a zero earned from doing a bad job on the lab report and a zero earned for not showing up to lab, please enter the grade for a lab no- show as -1 instead of zero.
Grading Lab Reports
A typical lab report includes data (measurements, calculations, results) and discussion. It appears on Canvas as two separate “assignments”, one called Data and one called Discussion, for each of the labs.
Students submit their lab reports on Canvas. After the lab, you’ll have access to all your students’ lab reports, which you then need to review, comment on, and assign a grade.
Note that all students need to submit INDIVIDUAL lab reports, but since they work in groups in the lab it’s likely (and expected, most of the time) that students working together will submit the same data in their lab reports. However, their discussions must be different, written by each individual student independently of their lab group mates.
When you grade the lab reports, look for any data that makes no sense — for example, a very obvious outlier, or a cluster of measurements or results that are way off the ballpark. Make sure students include in their answers the correct number of significant figures, error margins, and units (if they’re not already provided in the lab report).
You enter the lab report grades on Canvas, on the lab reports themselves. The Data part of the report is worth 6 points and the Discussion part is worth 4 points, for a total of 10 points as mentioned earlier. There is no separate lab participation grade; all students need to be participating (doing the lab experiment) at all times, and if you see anyone goofing off you need to nip it in the bud.
If you’re teaching 2212, there are four labs that don’t have an experiment, they’re only problem solving on paper. For these four labs, you assign the grade as 2 points for the pre-lab quiz and 8 points for the rest of it, which again makes 10 points total. Students will turn these in on paper, and you grade and comment on them on paper, but the actual grade you still need to enter on Canvas.
Finally, as mentioned earlier, if you have a student who didn’t show up and doesn’t have documentation for their absence, enter their lab report grade as -1 instead of zero, to distinguish it from zeros earned by doing a bad lab report.