P212: Writing lab reports one section at a time

Author: Beatriz I. Smith, Arizona State University, USA

Co-Author: Pamela Marks, Ron Briggs and Gary Cabirac, Arizona State University, USA

Date: 8/4/14

Time: 10:15 AM10:35 AM

Room: MAK A1117

Related Symposium: S24

As a former chemistry high school teacher, community college instructor, and current lab manager I have concluded that students struggle with writing an effective lab report. Students at Arizona State University especially struggle because our labs are inquiry-based. When I assigned individual reports as an instructor, I got many “individual” identical reports. Even when assigned in groups, many students still struggle when working together to write a report. One reason group lab reports are assigned is to emphasize the importance of skilled collaborative effort in the professional work place. To address this issue, we have implemented a new process in first-semester general chemistry to teach report-writing skills. For the first few weeks of the semester, students practice writing one section of the report for each investigation. The goal is to prepare each student to contribute to any part of a group report later in the semester. While the emphasis of the lab report section varies per investigation, the remaining assignment is a worksheet. In my presentation I plan to use a sample lab assignment to show the specifics of how to guide student in the lab-reporting process. I will also include survey results from students and TAs.