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How to Get Creative with Lab Reports

W. Stephen Parker

Group of high school students working together on a chemistry lab.Lab reports are of course necessary to determine outcomes of experimentation. The data gathered is imperative to show the outcomes of a student or group of students’ efforts. How this data is then imparted to others is where open creative minds can flourish. While traditional lab reports can sometimes hinder student engagement, adding a little bit of creativity to the process can reignite curiosity. Learn how to get creative with lab reports with these fun ideas.

Storyboarding

The creation of storyboards to impart lab reports can be beneficial in several ways. Students can pull from a talent for drawing or cartooning to create innovative, interesting lab reports. By making the lab report appealing from a visual perspective, one can gain the interest and curiosity of others.

Storyboarding has the propensity to draw the attention of students that are visual learners, thereby sparking the interest of those that might otherwise not be engaged. Storyboarding can also draw from the ideas of others while working in a group setting. By using storyboarding in a group setting, all stakeholders can have input into the final project as opposed to simply reporting the data.

Utilize Multimedia

Utilizing multimedia with lab reports can actually become an extension of what students are already doing in their lives. Most students are already deeply engaged in social media, web surfing, emojis, and YouTube. Video/audio presentations within the classroom can and do bring lab reports to life. Given that students are already heavily involved in the internet, it only makes sense to use this as an opportunity for use in the school setting.

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Through the sharing of results and vivid imaginations brought to life through a litany of available resources, students can expand their experiences and the experiences of others sharing the information. Using multimedia literally opens up the lab report to a worldwide audience. By opening up the information to the masses, a student can have opportunities to draw from input and valuable ideas about outcomes literally from anywhere.

A side note here is that a student or group of students might receive positive reinforcement from outside sources that help to raise self-esteem, confidence, and a desire to pursue the endeavor further. The bottom line here is utilizing multimedia yields the opportunity for greater, further educational growth that might not be gained through simply data gain and reporting.

Peer Presentations and Reviews

Peer presentations and reviews are an age old method of imparting knowledge gained through lab reports. One should never discount the importance of working together toward a common goal and then reporting to others the findings gained through cooperative study. Peer presentations give the group the opportunity to “report out” their findings within the comfort of the group with everyone having an important part to play.

It is important for peer presentations to be inclusive of everyone responsible for the presentation. Peer reviews given honestly and fairly can have a huge impact on the group and what their next steps should be. Often students will listen more intently to the review of a peer over that of the instructor. Peer reviews should be monitored by the instructor, however, to ensure that honesty, fairness, and desire to work toward a certain outcome are always in place.

It is important to note, the aforementioned presentation methods can be incorporated into these presentations as well. This once again gives opportunity for peer report presentations to go worldwide. Through peer presentations and reviews, the entire class and possibly the entire world can be drawn into the groups “inner circle,” which can deepen the learning experience for many.

Student Lab Report Creation

The creation of lab reports usually begins with an instructor-generated format for the gathering and reporting of data. Another way to allow students to tap in to their creativity is to allow them total autonomy in the creation of the lab report. By giving the students a blank canvas at the beginning of the reporting, students are allowed to determine what is important and what is not as to what actually goes into the lab report.

This, much like the scientific method itself, allows students to make corrections and adjustments as they move through the process. Often times, an initial incorrect answer or entry can actually lead to deeper learning through correction and desired outcome. Of course the instructor should still be available to counsel during the process. The instructor, though, must allow the students to learn from mistakes as long as there is an honest effort and a reason for the direction they are taking.

Students experimenting in a certain direction, following the process, and then conducting honest lab reporting can be stimulated to explore in a myriad of directions. Unlocking the students’ minds to go with the evidence and be willing to “step out” into the unknown can be a valuable asset to student achievement.

The key to creative science lab reporting is to create a climate where students want to find results and then report those results in a way that is easily understood and interesting to their peers and themselves. As in any student learning endeavor, creating interest and desire for knowledge is key to student achievement. Lab reports can be fun, and let’s face it, students like having fun. If students are growing academically and having fun in the process, everyone wins!

#labreports
#creativelabs

Feb.26.2020


Stephen is a middle/high school principal and holds an M.A. in Educational Leadership. 

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