Lab Report

Description 

The Lab Report Performance Task Guide is designed to support students in writing a formal lab report that communicates all aspects of a student-designed experiment.

Preparing students for college-level work means providing exposure to, and practice with, the stylistic writing conventions used in different fields of study. The lab report is one such writing application for the sciences that not only helps strengthen students’ technical writing skills, but also offers learners a structured process for engaging in scientific inquiry: research design, data analysis, presentation of findings, and reflection on outcomes. Embedded in the steps described in the Lab Report Performance Task Guide are key scientific practices derived from the Next Generation Science Standards, designed to help students understand the work that scientists do, recognize how scientific knowledge develops, and make connections between the sciences and opportunities to positively impact society by addressing major challenges faced by our world today.

 

Opportunities for Student Choice 

Student choice can be encouraged in a number of ways. Students can choose the topic, research question, and experiment. Throughout the process, students have the opportunity to make decisions about their experiment.

Authentic Task 

Lab reports are the centerpiece of scientific documentation. They are used in all fields of science to communicate scientists’ findings to their colleagues and the world at large. Experimentation may be original or may be used to either validate or refute established work. No matter what the focus of the experiment may be, the purpose of the lab report remains: to document scientific findings, present data, and analyze results. They are used by all scientists, from beginners in the classroom to leaders in their field. Learning to write a proper lab report is an essential scientific skill.

Opportunities for Exhibition to an Audience 

There are many possible audiences for lab reports, more traditionally teachers and peer students. However, if the focus of the experiment is related to the school itself, the audience could be the administration or the school board. Students might post their findings on a community website for review and comment if the data addresses a local issue. There is also the possibility of presenting to a “sister school” who might be working on the same topic to pool data for more validity.

Downloadable Resources 
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Explore Lab Reports_LR

What makes an effective lab report?
Develop a clear enough understanding of the history and characteristics of this genre to be able to explain your understanding to others.

 

Common Core Standards 

  • CCRA.L.3
  • CCRA.R.2
  • CCRA.SL.3

Time To Complete 

1 Day

Lab Report Performance Tasks Rubric

What are the expectations for this performance task?  

Each performance task has a single-point rubric, which lays out the expectations for college-and career-ready performance. This type of rubric allows teachers to provide specific, focused feedback without limiting students’ creativity or putting a ceiling on their...

Choose A Topic For Scientific Inquiry_LR

What makes for a good topic for scientific inquiry?
Identify an issue, or a topic within a larger issue, that you wonder about. 

Common Core Standards 

  • CCRA.R.7

Time To Complete 

1-2 Days

Create A Research Question_LR

What question does your experiment hope to answer?
What is your research question and why does it matter?  

Common Core Standards 

  • CCRA.W.7

Time To Complete 

2-3 Hours

Research The Issue_LR

What do people know, say, and believe about this issue?
Find and analyze resources that will help you grasp the issue’s key concepts, in addition to deepening your understanding of the range of perspectives on it. Focus on examining what can be done to make an impact regarding the issue.  

Common Core Standards 

  • CCRA.R.1
  • CCRA.R.9
  • CCRA.W.7
  • CCRA.W.8
  • CCRA.W.9

Time To Complete 

1-2 Days

Construct A Hypothesis_LR

What is the basis for my experimentation?  What statement is guiding my scientific process?
Formulate testable, measurable hypotheses.
 
Common Core Standards Assessed: ELA.W.1
NGSS Assessed:  HS-LS3; HS-PS4; HS-ETS1

Time To Complete 

1-3 Hours

Test With An Experiment_LR

How do I test my hypothesis?
Design and implement reproducible procedures to test hypotheses.  Critique other procedures to suggest alternate experiments to test a given hypothesis.
 
Common Core Standards Assessed: ELA.RST.3, 4; ELA.WHST.7
NGSS...

Work with Numerical Data in Excel_LR

What numerical questions can spreadsheets answer for us easily?
Develop a clear enough understanding of a spreadsheet program to enter data, perform basic calculations using functions, sort data, and create pictorial representations to export into an infographic.

Common Core Standards 

  • CCRA.L.6
  • CCRA.R.1
  • CCRA.R.2

Time To Complete 

1-2 Days

Present Data_LR

How can data be displayed?
Explore the types of data tables and graphs and determine which type suits a particular set of data.

 

Common Core Standards 

  • CCRA.SL.5
  • CCRA.W.2

Time To Complete 

1 Day

Draft The Lab Report_LR

How do you pull it all together?
Produce a rough draft of your lab report that is ready to be critiqued.

Common Core Standards 

  • CCRA.W.1
  • CCRA.W.2
  • CCRA.W.4
  • CCRA.W.5
  • CCRA.W.6
  • CCRA.W.7
  • CCRA.W.8
  • CCRA.W.9

Time To Complete 

1 Day

Cite Sources to Avoid Plagiarism_LR

How do you give credit?
Create an acknowledgment page that gives credit to any authors that contributed to your lab report.

Common Core Standards 

  • CCRA.W.8
  • CCRA.W.9

Time To Complete 

1-2 hours

Give and Receive Feedback_LR

How do authors collaborate to improve their writing?
Give and receive feedback that is focused and constructive, and that will help the author improve their draft.

 

Common Core Standards 

  • CCRA.SL.1
  • CCRA.SL.3
  • CCRA.W.5

Time To Complete 

1 Day

Revise_LR

How can you improve your draft?
Using feedback from a peer and/or teacher, strengthen your draft by ensuring your facts and details are relevant, your organization is clear and strong, and your use of voice is strong and appropriate to the audience. 

Common Core Standards 

  • CCRA.W.4
  • CCRA.W.5

Time To Complete 

3-5 hours

Edit_LR

How can you improve your draft?
Using feedback from a peer or teacher, strengthen your presentation with a focus on grammar and professional language.

 

Common Core Standards 

  • CCRA.W.4
  • CCRA.W.5

Time To Complete 

2 Hours

Reflect_LR

What did you learn from writing a lab report that could be helpful to others?
Reflect on your lab report writing process. After presenting the lab report, reflect on the process from beginning to end as well as yourself as a learner.
 
Common Core Standards Assessed: ELA.RST.1, 3,...

Time To Complete 

1 Hour