Lab Report: Performance Task Teacher Guide


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.