While your students are in the lab, they will need to create a lab report
as a group that records their data and shows the results of some analyses.
In-lab assignments often start with a free-response question about
the purpose of the experiment, include answer-dependent numerical questions
that give your students immediate feedback about the "reasonableness"
of their data and whether or not they have correctly performed the requested
analyses, and end with another free-response question asking students
to write up their conclusions from the experiment, including its relevance
to the course objectives.
Your students should perform the experiment and collect their data
before beginning the in-lab assignment. To eliminate the temptation students
will have to start the assignment right away, make in-lab assignments
available to your students no sooner than one hour after the lab begins.
Show correct/incorrect marks to let your students know whether there
are problems with their data or analyses.
In-lab assignments should be group assignments with well-defined roles;
this helps your students to work productively together. Preferably students
should change roles during the term in order to practice the skills required
for each role. Common roles for 3- and 4-person lab groups are described
in the following table.
- Manager or Organizer
- The group leader who ensures that the group completes the task
- Outlines the experiment procedure for the group.
- Manages time. Example: "We need to wrap up this experiment in order to have enough time to
discuss the questions."
- Keeps group on task. Example: "After we finish the first part of the experiment, we should
keep the equipment set up for the second part."
- Supports participation from all team members. Example: "Henry, why don't you monitor the
data display while Sue and I initiate the experiment?"
- Responsible for developing consensus, recording group decisions, and submitting
- Monitors and records experimental data.
- Ensures that all group members agree with experimental results.
- Verifies that all group members understand experiment plan and results. Example: "Does
everyone understand how to run the experiment?"
- Submits lab reports for the team.
- Skeptic or Questioner
- Responsible for ensuring that the group considers alternative ideas and does not draw
- Ensures that data interpretation is correct. Example: "I think the data plot should look
- Suggests alternate methods or interpretations of the experiment. Example: "Could we
interpret the data in another fashion?"
- Questions experimental results and understanding of experiment plans. Example: "Should the
experiment apparatus act like that? How do we expect it to act? Why is it acting
- Ensures all facets of the experiment's questions and results are explored. Example: "Are
we accounting for all factors?"
- Summarizer (optional)
- Responsible for helping to motivate the group and reiterating what has been
- Summarizes the experiment's plan and results. Example: "To recap, the experiment
referenced the energy principle, and by…"
- Maintains group's energy through encouragement, humor, enthusiasm, or other methods.
Example: "I see that we are on the right track. Good job, everyone!"
Many of the general considerations for group work are discussed in
To implement this
use case, see the following topics: