Ahhh! The semester starts in less than a week and I still haven’t decided how to deal with labs in my Physics Optics course. I’ve taught two fully SBG (standards-based grading) courses, but neither had a lab attached. I wanted to use this post to help me flesh out some ideas I could do. Note that I’ve brainstormed a little about this already.
I’m really attracted to figuring out a way to have each student do their own lab. Unfortunately, I only have 3 sets of equipment with 8 people in the lab. I’ve kicked around the notion of an “I can be a good lab slave” so that they’re motivated to help each other when needed, but I’m not sure that’s the best use of their time.
So here’s how I envision this working:
- Students are given the ? number of labs they’re expected to do this semester
- each one will be tied to particular chapters, etc
- students are randomly assigned to jobs for a given lab day
- researcher (they get to “do” a lab)
- helper (they’re the slave to a researcher)
- ???? (here I’m thinking that they could be planning a future lab – maybe that’s a prerequisite to being a researcher? Or maybe they don’t have to come? Or maybe they can spend their time on a formal write up.
- Note that it’s a 3 hour period and some of the labs really shouldn’t take that long for data collection. In fact, maybe I can think of each lab period being 2 1.5 hour periods so only 2 people wouldn’t get to be a researcher. I guess I’m stuck on this point.
- The lab is set up and data is collected. They can use their own time for analysis. Maybe that’s what they do when they’re not a researcher or a slave.
One thing I’m really excited about is having them all do their own data analysis. When I’ve done teams in the past, usually the most proficient mathematica person does all that work.
Ok, how is this SBG? In my previous post I had some suggestions, but I’m not sure what to do yet. I think I’m leaning towards task/content based standards like “I can measure the complex refractive index of silver.” But then I’ll need to add in “I can propagate errors” as well (that’ll be assessed for every lab).
I’ve built in some lab re-assess days, and I’ll think I’ll have them apply for the slots available in those.
I’m also thinking that one of the standards will be “I can write up a formal lab report.” Maybe they’ll only have to pick one lab to do that, the rest can be results based, but not necessarily formalized. I know that the last time I taught this course, the formality of the weekly lab write-ups really piled up for them.
Ok, that’s my thoughts for now. I wanted to get them down before the weekend started. I’ll keep thinking about this and I’ll read you’re comments over the weekend. I imagine I’ll make my final decisions on Wednesday (that’s the first day of lab, the first day of lecturing is the next day). Thanks for helping!