lab grades

mclaugh at AUGSBURG.EDU mclaugh at AUGSBURG.EDU
Sun Oct 26 13:09:22 EST 1997


>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.

This has bothered me for years:  biology is not an abstract subject; real
experiences (of many kinds) should be the center of any bio course -- but
this is easy to say. Some institutions have found that eliminating labs
saves lots of money. Many of us think this is either immoral or
pedagogically nuts (or both). I have tried to weight labs to be worth about
as much as the "lecture" portion of my courses, although often it's more
like 40:60 rather than 50:50. I did give the lab greater value than the
lecture in a plant pysiology course once. I had a positive reaction from
one student (on the anonymous course evaluation), who was impressed that a
bio course finally paid sufficient attention in grading to the part the
students spent the most time & effort on. We shouldn't expect students to
value lab work if we don't give it much value when we grade.
Esther McLaughlin

********************
Esther G. McLaughlin
Associate Professor
Biology Dept.
Augsburg College
2211 Riverside Ave.
Minneapolis MN 55454 USA
612/330-1074 // FAX:612/330-1649
*******************




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