What is LabWrite?

LabWrite is an online resource designed to help students take full advantage of one of the most important activities for learning in the sciences—writing good lab reports. Writing good lab reports helps students learn the science of the lab and improves their ability to think scientifically. As a lab instructor, however, you have a lot of other things for you to attend to: preparing your labs, making sure students can use lab instruments, helping students gather and manage lab data, and maintaining a safe lab environment. Given all these tasks, it may be difficult to give the necessary attention to teaching lab reports.

LabWrite provides the teaching tools you need to help your students benefit from the learning potential in writing lab reports. And because LabWrite is online, students can use it when they need it most.

But LabWrite is not just about writing lab reports. It shapes the entire lab experience as a learning experience by structuring each lab into the four stages that provide the foundation for the students’ web site: PreLab, InLab, PostLab, and LabCheck.

PreLab is a set of questions for students to answer before doing each lab. Answering these questions prepares students to get the most out the lab by guiding their understanding of the scientific concept they are supposed to be learning about by doing the lab and by forming the lab as an act of scientific inquiry based on a hypothesis.

InLab is a lab notebook that takes students through the process of collecting, analyzing, and making sense of the data from the lab. Throughout the process, students are provided resources that help them work effectively with data, such as using Excel, identifying dependent and independent variables, making a table for raw data, understanding the kinds of data they have collected, and creating tables and graphs appropriate to the data.

PostLab is a step-by-step guide for writing the lab report. It leads students in using information from their PreLab and InLab responses to write their reports. Students build reports section by section, starting with the ones that they already know the most about, first the Methods and then the Results and working their way to the Abstract and Title. LabWrite’s “inside-out” approach provides students a sensible and logical way of writing the lab report.

LabCheck provides a checklist students can use as a guide for revising their reports before turning them in. Another feature of LabCheck is an evaluation sheet that matches the instructor’s grading sheet. When the graded lab report is returned, students can use the links on their online evaluation guide to find specific help they can use to improve the next report they write.

Resources are a collection of guides tailored to meet students’ specific needs. For example, if they need help in entering data into an Excel spreadsheet, creating a graph, making sure they have the right format for citations and references, or correcting their grammar, they can find the answers they need in a LabWrite resource. Most of the resources are also integrated into each LabWrite stage to provide immediate help as students use either the Self-Guide or Tutor modes. For an overview of all the LabWrite resources, go to the Resources Homepage, accessible from the LabWrite homepage or from any subpage in the student's site.


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Sponsored and funded by National Science Foundation
(DUE-9950405 and DUE-0231086)

Site design by Rosa Wallace

Rev. RW 5/16/05