Collaboration and the discussion of lab results is an important part of the learning process in any science course and can be easily incorporated into online-science courses via their Discussion Boards. Among the tips we give science instructors are the following on scheduling the due dates for lab reports and lab discussions:
- Schedule the due date for Lab Reports to be on Tuesdays or Wednesdays. Since most students do their lab assignments on the weekend, they may not be able to get immediate help if they run into problems. This delay also gives students time to reflect upon and reinforce what they experienced and learned in performing the lab before rushing to write their Lab Report. It is important to let students know the purpose of this due-date shift. Otherwise, they will be tempted to perform their labs the night before and the purpose behind the due-date shift will be negated.
- Encourage Lab-Report postings to the Discussion Board on Wednesday and Thursday. This allows students to compare and contrast their observations and data with other students, further clarifying their thinking and reinforcing key concepts. Exercises utilizing combined class data can often be developed from this information. Since all lab reports will have already been submitted, students can’t utilize other’s information so there is no impact on academic integrity.
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