Conducting a Laboratory Session

People you should probably get in touch with:

  • Get in touch with a former TA who taught this lab. Ask him or her about the issues that he/she faced and how to address them.
  • Each lab usually has a lab manager – a staff/faculty member who is responsible for procuring and maintaining the equipment and materials in the lab. Find out the contact information of the lab manager and meet with him, if necessary.
  • If there are other TAs who teach other lab sessions for the same class, you should get their contact information.


  • Make sure you have access to the building where the lab is, the lab itself and any TA cabinet or equipment that you might need to access during the course of the semester. Access to most buildings on campus is restricted during weekend and off-hours. If you need access to the building outside of those hours, make sure you know whom to contact.
  • Make sure you have access to the TA’s cabinet or other storage space that may be designated for the TAs to store material needed for the lab.
  • If you need to use the lab outside of regular business hours (9am – 5pm Monday through Friday) you should check that the building/floor on which the lab is located is accessible.

Presentation Equipment:

  • Learn how to operate presentation equipment, if any, and whom to contact if the equipment doesn’t work.
  • Learn how to operate lighting, air-conditioning/heating, disposal systems, etc.

Laboratory Equipment:

  • Learn to use the lab equipment that is necessary for your class.
  • Learn any safety procedures that may be involved in using the equipment.
  • Find out where user manuals can be found, in case you encounter a situation you have not encountered before.
  • Find out which parts or materials in the lab are disposable and which must be returned after use.
  • Find out to whom you should report if you encounter missing, broken or faulty equipment.
  • Find out if there is any equipment or material that the students need to purchase. If so, how and where?

If your lab has computers that your students will use:

  • Is there any special software that the students need for this lab? If so, is it already installed or do you need to install it for them?
  • Find out if they are password-protected and what username & password the students must use.
  • Often times, students are given limited-access accounts using which they can’t install software on the machines. If you expect to encounter a situation where you must install new software, find out what the ‘administrator-level’ password is.
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 License.