Top 3 Lab Report Mistakes
Updated: Aug 28, 2019
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In my homeschool online science classes and in-person two day lab intensives, I spend considerable time helping students to become proficient at writing good, solid lab reports. After teaching several thousand homeschooled students and hundreds of pre-med college students, there are three mistakes that standout as being very common among most students.
1. In the background information part of the introduction section, students don't include enough background information. Reading the background information should enable someone who knows nothing about the topic to have a basic understanding of the topic. That usually takes more than a couple of sentences.
2. In the results section, students often don't include all of their raw data and they sometimes "discuss" their results - that should only be in the discussion section. All raw data should be in the results section and when appropriate students should also present some type of graphic illustration of the results to help readers understand the data.
3. In the discussion section, students usually don't include enough discussion. I understand why they don't - this is a difficult section to write for the inexperienced. But, they get better at this by understanding what should be here and then writing lots of lab reports. This section is meant to be a thorough discussion of the results to include comparison of actual results to hypothesis, conclusions that can be drawn, etc. Students should focus on the fact that the whole purpose of doing the experiment is to get the results and the discussion is a thorough analysis of those results.
I'm planning an upcoming Homeschool Moms Science Podcast episode on "Writing Great Lab Reports."