Does peer review improve lab report quality in high school science students?

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Montana State University - Bozeman, Graduate School


My students are, for the most part, potentially very good writers. However, when I get these students, their lab report writing skills are quite limited, and therefore, are very poor. Focus for doing labs thus far in their science career has been how well they can perform the lab from verbal instructions not written instructions. The students have a difficult time reading and understanding what the protocol wants them to do, and they have an even more difficult time explaining what they performed during the lab activity in a lab report. This project investigated how well the students discussed their course of action after performing the lab activity in a written report. The students were given written lab protocols and were expected to follow the procedure and make observations along the way. The labs were all completed in one 45 minute class period. The students were then given one day in class to work on their lab report following the lab report rubric (Appendix A). Data collection for this project not only included lab report writing, but what the students' comfort levels were in different elements of the lab, how well they reviewed their own work, how well they reviewed other peer's work, and how they felt about the whole lab report writing process throughout the year. Several teachers were also asked to evaluate how well these particular students processed and followed directions in their classrooms as well. The resulted indicated that by implementing a peer review session into the lab report writing process the report score significantly improved. The students who struggled at the beginning of the process were now completing quality lab reports in half the time and the peer review rubrics were being scored with the highest marks. Because of these positive outcomes, I know that peer review is an integral part of the learning process to produce quality lab reports and I will continue to conduct this practice in my classroom in years to come.




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