Laboratory Grades

Terry R. Conley tconley at FRODO.OKCU.EDU
Sat Oct 25 14:15:29 EST 1997

Dear Plant-Ed Readers,

As I reflect on my current semester's teaching activities, and begin
planning for the spring term, I again wonder whether I have achieved the
"ideal" balance in apportioning the contribitions that lecture and
laboratory activities make toward course grades.

Most classes that I teach have laboratory components.  In general, students
spend approximately equal amounts of clock time per week in both (i.e. 3
hrs classroom + 3 hrs laboratory).  In my general biochemistry class,
approximately 70% of "total points earned" are from lecture quizzes and
examinations, while the remaining 30% are based on lab quizzes and reports.
Although I feel strongly that the laboratories are a very important
component of the course, it seems to me that my grading policies don't
reflect that commitment; I sometimes suspect that as a consequence of this
grading bias students may view labs as being of secondary importance.

I'd be interested to hear how other faculty distribute the weights they
place on lab and lecture components of classes.  What do you feel is the
"ideal balance," if any?  And what strategies do you use to ensure that
students view labs as having primary importance to the course and to their
learning? (Or am I wrong in placing such an emphasis on labs?)  Thanks.


Terry R. Conley, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Biology
Oklahoma City University
2501 N. Blackwelder
Oklahoma City, OK 73106

Phone:  405-521-5038
FAX:    405-521-5468
tconley at

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