Pipetting and graphing and conversions, oh my! : motivational assessments that teach lab skills

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Montana State University - Bozeman, Graduate School


Developing lab skills is one of the purposes of the lab experience, yet students struggle with mastering them. Students are exposed to a number of common laboratory lab techniques, but they just don't get enough practice to master them. My primary goal was to design performance assessments to help students master some basic lab skills and see their relevance to their future classes and careers. A secondary goal was to design a tool that was easy for teaching assistants to use with a simple means of measuring outcomes. Five lab skills were targeted: pipetting, use of balances, metric conversions, graphing, creating standard curves, and data analysis using standard curves. By the end of the semester, 100% of students mastered pipetting and use of balances, 97% of students had mastered graphing standard curves and 100% could analyze data from a standard curve. Only 81% mastered metric conversions. Surveys and an interview showed students' awareness of the relevance of lab skills had increased and they found the performance assessments fun and motivating.




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