Assessing laboratory learning can enable students to bring theories into practice, as well as developing reasoning skills and testing their practical competence in laboratory work.
Assessment will vary depending on the knowledge or abilities you need to assess: it might be observational, based on laboratory reports, on a wider project report, or tested through weekly MCQ-type tests around key concepts/skills. Often laboratory assessment uses a combination of these.
Preparation time Student workload Marking time
Literacies and skills exhibited
Planning experiments or projects
Carrying out instructions
Following laboratory procedures and protocols
- Instructional guide for a beginner
- Seminar paper on an experiment
- Group report of a series of linked experiments
Depending on the assessment format used, a range of departmental staff might be involved in the assessment. Demonstrators might be best placed to observe behaviour in the lab and confirm completion of tasks, with a full-time member of academic staff moderating those marks. MCQs or weekly tests could be marked automatically, to reduce overall load.
Feedback will vary based on the assessment type, but good use can be made of regular laboratory sessions: taking time each week to engage the group in a review of good practice, common mistakes, etc. Feedback can also be built into tutorial sessions, pulling together developmental opportunities from a range of assessments and activities.
Guide to time involved in preparation, marking, and student workload: Low Medium High