Labwrite provides detailed guidance for prelab preparation, in lab activities, and post lab reporting. Students can click on various elements of the pre-post lab and receive detailed explanations of how to create outstanding lab write-ups appropriate for a variety of different types of labs.
Labwrite will help students to develop logical sequencing of thought for different kinds of science investigations, organization of ideas, graphical depictions of data, and improve their writing skills.
Target Student Population:
The target population of Labwrite is both high school level and college (undergraduate) students and, especially, the teachers of those students.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
Some familiarity with laboratory science activities including distinctions between experimental and descriptive approaches is assumed.
Type of Material:
Any student who must write up portions of a lab investigation could potentially make use of the guidance provided within Labwrite.
Teachers at high school and college levels will learn from LabWrite how to guide students to writing a more comprehensive and complete lab report. It is not necessary for the student to directly access this material. We recommend the material for use in science TA and teacher education programs. Checklist can be printed and handed out to students who need extra guidance, or the material can be used as the foundation for a lab science course.
A computer with good access to the Internet is required and some documents are available in pdf format.
Evaluation and Observation
Our reviewers welcome the distinctions between Standard Labs in which students establish and test a hypothesis, Descriptive Labs that do not use a hypothesis, and Student-Designed experimental labs. This shows students that there is not one single approach to investigations in science. The LabChecklist is outstanding in pointing out the logical relationships between parts of a lab - defining the research problem in terms of the knowns and unknowns, relating results to the original research problem, and relating the scientific concept of the lab to the experimental procedure, results, and original problem. The reminder to include references to document quality of information sources is an important component.
The guidelines ask students to detect relationships among the variables and to consider sources of uncertainty. Students are guided to use MSExcel for graphical display of uncertainty using error bars. However, guidelines are not included to help students with inferential statistical tests such as ANOVA or t-tests useful to help them draw conclusions in spite of variations in the results.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
Labwrite is effective in helping the student and teacher to become more organized in the preparation and implementation of a range of labs. It forces logical organization. A science major who is already familiar with the content might be able to use the material independently, and it also provides detailed explanations appropriate for students who are new to science investigations and who need more assistance.
The site is so extensive that students may feel overwhelmed. A teacher can help by either selecting portions of the guidelines and providing them to students as handouts or by deciding how to step students through the entire labwrite collection during the course of a lab semester - so that students are confronted with components step by step in small doses.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
Labwrite is extremely easy to navigate and understand. Very excellent user friendly interface and the options for printing are outstanding.
The online format lends itself more to formal lab papers and less to pre-lab or in-lab writing that has traditionally been deposited in a lab notebook. But the checklists can be used to train students to peer review lab notebooks for their appropriate use.
Other Issues and Comments:
The MERLOT reviewers have only strong ratings for Labwrite and wish such a tremendous resource was available to every student in high school and undergraduate years. We strongly recommend this material for science faculty professional development!