The Laboratory Report: A Pedagogical Tool in College Science Courses

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Title: The Laboratory Report: A Pedagogical Tool in College Science Courses
Author: Ferzli, Miriam
Advisors: Eric N. Wiebe, Committee Chair
Abstract: When viewed as a product rather than a process that aids in student learning, the lab report may become rote, busywork for both students and instructors. Students fail to see the purpose of the lab report, and instructors see them as a heavy grading load. If lab reports are taught as part of a process rather than a product that aims to "get the right answer," they may serve as pedagogical tools in college science courses. In response to these issues, an in-depth, web-based tutorial named LabWrite ( was developed to help students and instructors ( understand the purpose of the lab report as grounded in the written discourse and processes of science. The objective of this post-test only quasi-experimental study was to examine the role that in-depth instruction such as LabWrite plays in helping students to develop skills characteristic of scientifically literate individuals. Student lab reports from an introductory-level biology course at NC State University were scored for overall understanding of scientific concepts and scientific ways of thinking. The study also looked at students' attitudes toward science and lab report writing, as well as students' perceptions of lab reports in general. Significant statistical findings from this study show that students using LabWrite were able to write lab reports that showed a greater understanding of scientific investigations (p<.003) and scientific ways of thinking (p<.0001) than students receiving traditional lab report writing instruction. LabWrite also helped students develop positive attitudes toward lab reports as compared to non-LabWrite users (p<.01). Students using LabWrite seemed to perceive the lab report as a valuable tool for determining learning objectives, understanding science concepts, revisiting the lab experience, and documenting their learning.
Date: 2003-07-16
Degree: PhD
Discipline: Science Education

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