Why Use LabWrite?

The science lab offers one of the most important experiences a student can have at college. In addition to usual justifications—such as reinforcing concepts learned in lecture through hands-on experience—the lab is important because it provides students the experience of participating in and enhancing their understanding of science through active scientific inquiry, learning what it means to think like a scientist, what it means to be a scientist.

This experience is crucial for science majors and non-science majors alike. All students need to develop the critical thinking skills associated with science, the ability to generate a hypothesis, to gather and analyze data for testing the hypothesis, to present the data clearly, and to use the data make a logical judgment about the hypothesis.

But more than that, all students need to understand the purpose and value of science and how science works in order to become intelligent consumers of science and to be able to make informed decisions about science and funding priorities. Science continues to play a major role in shaping our culture; we must prepare scientifically literate citizens to participate knowledgeably in that culture. The science lab is the best opportunity we have for helping students develop scientific literacy.

The lab report is key to encouraging scientific literacy. A wealth of scholarship in writing to learn and writing to learn science points to a productive link between writing and learning. As the only significant writing in most science classes, the lab report offers the opportunity to enhance science learning in the lab. Writing lab reports promotes learning not only by giving students the occasion to reflect thoughtfully on the lab procedure, but also by shaping their lab experience as an act of scientific inquiry: introduction, methods, results, and discussion.

How can you provide the instruction necessary for students to take full advantage of the learning opportunities afforded by writing lab reports? LabWrite is an answer. It provides extensive, just-in-time guidance designed to encourage students to think scientifically about their labs. There is great learning potential in each lab. LabWrite helps lab instructors achieve that potential by making the hands-on experience of the lab a “minds-on” experience.




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Sponsored and funded by National Science Foundation
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Rev. RW 5/16/05