Lab Reports

I just finished grading my 7th and 8th grade students' lab reports, and they were really varied in terms of structure and quality. I was reminded of that spectrum that Professor Ardito drew on the board last week about the degree of freedom for students to submit work. Since I only provided guiding questions and a rubric instead of a "high quality" example of what I expected from them, the students' work gravitated towards the left side of that spectrum. I've learned my lesson. Next time, I will be a lot more specific in what I want from the students. However, I don't want to fall on the other side of the spectrum where they all submit the same "cookie cutter" lab report without any variation. How should I go about this?

I plan on having a "workshop" day where I assign a group of 4 or 5 students to create a checklist of what should be on their assigned sections (Procedure, Data, Analysis, Conclusion, etc.). Then for homework, I plan to give the students another chance to submit a higher quality lab report to make up their grades. If anyone has any suggestions or criticisms, that would be greatly appreciated.

- David Zheng

    • Miyosha Steele
      Miyosha Steele


      I think the workshop is a great start. My students have surprised me with the ideas that they have for project guidelines and I'm sure yours will do the same.  Usually, I give students "key" things that must be included on homework assignments or projects and then give them an example of what not to do. This way it allows for some free expression on their part. I'm sure you will see an improvement after you have the workshop and give them a second chance on the homework. If you are having them research information for the report, be sure to tell/teach them how to correctly cite their sources. My students struggle with this but,  it's also a great way to incorporate literacy into science.:-) 

      • David Zheng
        David Zheng


        Thank you for your response! I'll see how they create a guideline/checklist on Tuesday. I'll definitely include specific key things I want them to include in their reports. And incorporating the literacy standards is great as well. :)

        - David Zheng

        • Jeremy Poserio
          Jeremy Poserio

          Hey David,

          I feel you on this subject. I was stressing over if my students lab reports would be structured well, so I decided to make this a whole class walk through where I walked the students step by step the process of making labs.

          I know it's super far to the right where I guide students and leave no room for creativity, but I think I simply did this for fear of not doing things "right".

          • Gerald Ardito
            Gerald Ardito


            Thanks for starting this discussion.

            The workshop is a good idea. It can be an effective tool for establishing norms about the type and quality of acceptable work. Please share with us about it.

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