Running A Weekly Lab Section

After completing this module you should be able to:

1) Implement an effective laboratory section
2) Identify common pitfalls as well as methods for overcoming such obstacles
3) Utilize methods that will motivate students to learn the course materials

What type of lab are you TAing?
Labs are designed to supplement courses but can do so in a variety of ways, and at the outset it’s helpful to recognize what kind of lab you are assigned to. The categories below are designed to walk you through the materials on this website in the way that's most relevant to your lab. Of course, these categories are not mutually exclusive, so it's recommended that you browse through other categories as well.

Activity/Concept-driven labs

These labs are designed to reinforce lecture materials, usually on a weekly basis. The material is normally contained within each lab session and does not carry over from week to week. It’s especially important for the TA to ensure that the students are able to follow the steps of the lab, and that the students understand how the lab is connected to the lecture.

Experiment-driven labs

These labs typically involve some sort of experiment designed to provide the student with a practical illustration of the lecture material. Safety is an important concern. Science labs are often standalone as well, and thus the TA needs to ensure that the procedure and relevance of the experiment are clear to students.

Project-driven labs

These labs are based around a particular project that students work on consistently throughout a semester such as a film or engineering project. The labs are often freeform and the TA must structure the material around the students' needs and interests. These labs may entail some project management and the TA needs to be aware of each student’s scope, schedule and technique.
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