Labs in SBG part 2

I’ve been thinking about how I can cram my old lab routines and policies into SBG. Here’s what’s involved:

  1. Students work in groups of 2-3
    1. one write-up per group
    2. groups are formed randomly
  2. Everyone does the same lab on the same day, as dictated by the syllabus to best support the lecture content
    1. here I’m using “lecture” to simply signify the non-lab portion of the course, not necessarily to mean that I lecture.
  3. Every lab has similar expectations:
    1. Organized write-up
    2. Data-based decisions/conclusions
    3. Correct error handling
    4. Participation points

So how can that fit with SBG? Point 1 needs to be individualized. I think that’s easy: have them all do their own write-ups, though maybe back off on the formality a little like I mentioned in my last post.

Point 2 is a strong point so I think I’ll leave it alone.

Point 3 can be the start of my lab standards. They effectively will be able to reassess all of those generic ones with every new lab they do. I’m not sure if having them go back and do the same lab is so critical, though I’m certainly open to suggestions.

There was a comment about my last part regarding point 1 (group vs individual). Becca asked why they can’t do what I’m suggesting here. My response was, basically, grounded in my knee-jerk defense against cheating. However, I think using screencasting could likely help with that a little. Sure, one member of the group may still be the person who figures out the analysis, and, in fact, could be the first person to do a great screencast that s/he shares with their team. However, I think that, to get a good score on my rubric, each member would have to personalize their work. I’ll have to be cautious about this, though.

I could enforce some sort of roles, I suppose. One week you’re a data gatherer, another you’re the analyzer, another you’re the presenter. I guess I’m still kicking this around.

So why am I waffling so much? I feel pretty good about what I’ve done to improve my sbg implementation for a lecture-only course. These labs have thrown me a little, and I’m trying to decide how much to change at once. Right now this course of action, even with its open questions, sounds easier to implement than the individual labs course I presented in my last post.

One more question: Should I get their input? What would happen if I presented both approaches to them? I always assume that students will pick the easiest way out. I think this one is that. But maybe there’s some value to hearing their reaction to these plans. I guess I’m not sure. My guess is a couple of them are reading this, though I’m never sure.

Thanks in advance for any help you can give me.

About Andy Rundquist

Professor of physics at Hamline University in St. Paul, MN
This entry was posted in physics, sbar, sbg, screencasting, teaching. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Labs in SBG part 2

  1. Pete McNamara says:

    I have been trying this, and what I settled on for this year was to grade their individual lab writeups based on a set of standards that change each quarter. Standards have included lab format, lab clarity, interpretation of results, and so on. I started with the list from and selected a few, some broad “overall quality” standards and some based on particular skills. It’s worked so far with my honors physics class, but most of them came to me quite comfortable writing lab reports.

  2. Tracie says:

    I have 10 separate standards for each lab skill I want my kids to do. Each kid has their own lab book and everything lab must be in each book. These are reassessed every time they turn in their lab notebooks. I do not make them redo the same lab, they just have to wait until the next due date. Usually on the first pass at grading, I allow them to go back and make corrections. For the analysis, I have a lab standard, but I also add in a grade for what ever concept is being covered. For example, we just did a lab on conservation of mass. Each analysis was graded on whether the conclusion was based on the data, etc, but also whether or not the conclusion made sense in terms of the LoCM. So basically, can they tie in the lab with one of their learning targets? Each group is allowed to work on the analysis together, but each one needs to be in their own words. This becomes a group grade and I am sure there is someone out there that is not doing their fair share. I am okay with that, mostly because I have a group of kids now that are very touchy about others trying to copy their work, and also because they will still need to be able to explain later on a quiz. My writeups are not what I would consider formal. There is a certain, general format the needs to be followed, but I don’t count off if you forgot to write your variables until after your procedure.

  3. Pingback: student lab screencasts | SuperFly Physics

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