Lab Grading

One of the most gut-wrenching components to teaching Physics labs is grading student’s work.

A traditional lab evaluation approach is to grade “short reports”, a report usually written in the lab. In this approach, students are under a great deal of pressure to write the report components that will be evaluated and to write them while doing the lab. In grading these reports, providing meaningful feedback means including comments on student’s work. The grading stress grows with each report as feedback comments are the same for common errors (one wonders if a rubber stamp might be of value).

A different approach we’ve taken is to contain evaluations to short quizzes. Quizzes probe key concepts being taught in the lab. Our quizzes are open notebook to encourage students to take meaningful notes. Weekly quizzes are graded for marks with feedback given on review of the quiz with the class in the following week.

Both approaches usually are complemented with the added requirement of formal reports, a polished report suitable for publication. We provide student detailed specification outlining requirement and expectations of a published report.
Grading these with feedback notes is time-consuming. Checklists of common errors and concerns help.

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