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Facilitating Improvements in Laboratory Report Writing Skills with Less Grading: A Laboratory Report Peer-Review Process

    Authors: Jennifer R. Brigati1,*, Jerilyn M. Swann1
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    Affiliations: 1: Maryville College, Maryville, TN 37804
    AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION
    • Published 01 May 2015
    • Supplemental materials available at http://jmbe.asm.org
    • *Corresponding author. Mailing address: Maryville College, 502 E. Lamar Alexander Pkwy, Maryville, TN 37804. Phone: 865-981-8168. E-mail: Jennifer.brigati@maryvillecollege.edu.
    • ©2015 Author(s). Published by the American Society for Microbiology.
    Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. May 2015 vol. 16 no. 1 61-68. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v16i1.884
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    Abstract:

    Incorporating peer-review steps in the laboratory report writing process provides benefits to students, but it also can create additional work for laboratory instructors. The laboratory report writing process described here allows the instructor to grade only one lab report for every two to four students, while giving the students the benefits of peer review and prompt feedback on their laboratory reports. Here we present the application of this process to a sophomore level genetics course and a freshman level cellular biology course, including information regarding class time spent on student preparation activities, instructor preparation, prerequisite student knowledge, suggested learning outcomes, procedure, materials, student instructions, faculty instructions, assessment tools, and sample data. -tests comparing individual and group grading of the introductory cell biology lab reports yielded average scores that were not significantly different from each other ( = 0.13, n = 23 for individual grading, n = 6 for group grading). -tests also demonstrated that average laboratory report grades of students using the peer-review process were not significantly different from those of students working alone ( = 0.98, n = 9 for individual grading, n = 6 for pair grading). While the grading process described here does not lead to statistically significant gains (or reductions) in student learning, it allows student learning to be maintained while decreasing instructor workload. This reduction in workload could allow the instructor time to pursue other high-impact practices that have been shown to increase student learning. Finally, we suggest possible modifications to the procedure for application in a variety of settings.

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References & Citations

1. American Association for the Advancement of Science2011Vision and change in undergraduate biology education: a call to action: a summary of recommendations made at a national conference organized by the American Association for the Advancement of ScienceJuly 15–17 2009Washington, DC
2. Berry D, Fawkes K2010Constructing the components of a lab report using peer reviewJ Chem Educ87576110.1021/ed8000107 http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/ed8000107
3. Flynn EA, McCulley GA, Gratz RK1986Writing in biology: effect of peer critiquing and model analysis on the quality of biology student laboratory reports160175 Young A, Fulwiler TWriting Across the Disciplines: Research into PracticeBoynton/Cook PublishersUpper Montclair, NJ
4. Gratz RK1990Improving lab report quality by model analysis, peer review, and revisionJ Coll Sci Teach19292295
5. Gray FE, Emerson L, MacKay B2005Meeting the demands of the workplace; science students and written skillsJ Sci Ed Tech1442543410.1007/s10956-005-8087-y http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10956-005-8087-y
6. Gray K2013The candidate skills/qualities employers want, Figure 41Job Outlook 2014National Association of Colleges and EmployersBethlehem, PA
7. Haury DL1993Teaching science through inquiry. ERCI/CSMEE DigestERIC Clearinghouse for Science, Mathematics, and Environmental EducationColumbus, OHERIC # ED359048
8. Leekley RM, Davis-Kahl S, Seeborg MC2013Undergraduate economics journal: learning by doingJ. Coll. Teach. Learn10105112
9. Lord T2001101 Reasons for using cooperative learning in biology teachingAm Biol Teach63303810.2307/4451027 http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/4451027
10. Sims G1989A student peer review in the classroom: a teaching and grading toolJ Agron Educ18105108
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/content/journal/jmbe/10.1128/jmbe.v16i1.884
2015-05-01
2017-03-30

Abstract:

Incorporating peer-review steps in the laboratory report writing process provides benefits to students, but it also can create additional work for laboratory instructors. The laboratory report writing process described here allows the instructor to grade only one lab report for every two to four students, while giving the students the benefits of peer review and prompt feedback on their laboratory reports. Here we present the application of this process to a sophomore level genetics course and a freshman level cellular biology course, including information regarding class time spent on student preparation activities, instructor preparation, prerequisite student knowledge, suggested learning outcomes, procedure, materials, student instructions, faculty instructions, assessment tools, and sample data. -tests comparing individual and group grading of the introductory cell biology lab reports yielded average scores that were not significantly different from each other ( = 0.13, n = 23 for individual grading, n = 6 for group grading). -tests also demonstrated that average laboratory report grades of students using the peer-review process were not significantly different from those of students working alone ( = 0.98, n = 9 for individual grading, n = 6 for pair grading). While the grading process described here does not lead to statistically significant gains (or reductions) in student learning, it allows student learning to be maintained while decreasing instructor workload. This reduction in workload could allow the instructor time to pursue other high-impact practices that have been shown to increase student learning. Finally, we suggest possible modifications to the procedure for application in a variety of settings.

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Figures

Image of FIGURE 1.

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FIGURE 1.

Average lab report grades (before adjustments) of student pairs and individuals. No statistically significant differences were found between average grades of students working in pairs and students working as individuals on any single lab report or all lab reports combined. (two-tailed -test; = 0.45 for report 1; = 0.61 for report 2; = 0.64 for report 3; = 0.98 for all reports). Error bars indicate standard deviation.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. May 2015 vol. 16 no. 1 61-68. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v16i1.884
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Image of FIGURE 2.

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FIGURE 2.

Average improvement of individual-student and student-pair lab report grades between the first lab report and the third (final) lab report. There was no statistically significant difference in improvement between the two groups (two-tailed -test, = 0.11). Error bars indicate standard deviation.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. May 2015 vol. 16 no. 1 61-68. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v16i1.884
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Image of FIGURE 3.

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FIGURE 3.

Comparison of average grades calculated by evaluating individual lab reports with grades calculated by evaluating one laboratory report per group of four students. No statistically significant difference was found between average individual and group grades (two-tailed -test; = 0.12). Error bars indicate standard deviation.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. May 2015 vol. 16 no. 1 61-68. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v16i1.884
Download as Powerpoint

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