University of Valencia (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2013 Proceedings
Publication year: 2013
Pages: 231-238
ISBN: 978-84-616-2661-8
ISSN: 2340-1079
Conference name: 7th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 4-5 March, 2013
Location: Valencia, Spain
The laboratory sessions are an essential part in most science degrees, with a considerable load of contents and time allocated in each course. They also represent a relevant investment for the universities in terms of staff, time, space and financial support. Several learning outcomes are intended at these lab sessions, including laboratory skills (e.g., data handling), report writing, interpretation skills, or knowledge, understanding and use of principles involved and their application in different contexts. These skills should be assessed properly, and a variety of evaluation methods, such as written exams, oral tests and/or elaboration of laboratory notebooks, may be applied. There is a wide agreement that the elaboration of a lab notebook helps instructors to evaluate and get feedback on students’ performance. However, the evaluation can be time-consuming, inter alia, when performed in numerous groups or when the evaluation method is not standardized. The lab classes in the Zoology course of the Biology degree at the University of Valencia (UV), Spain, represent over one third of the students’ face-to-face instruction load. Currently, lab classes are evaluated based only on a final exam at the end of the course because of the large number of students. However, we submit that it is possible to get a more comprehensive assessment of each student’s achievement using the lab notebook as an additional tool that evaluates communication skills, as well as conceptual and procedural understanding. In this presentation we describe the guidelines to implement its use for zoology students at the UV. The lab notebook focus on activities that are related to the main types of practicals in Zoology at the UV, i.e., description of animal phyla, identification of taxa using keys, and functional interpretation of morphology. We provide rubrics for assessment of each of the three types of activities. Each rubric includes a detailed description of each evaluable item (including communication quality, and conceptual and procedural understanding) that each activity should contain (e.g, in descriptions of animal phyla, performance will be assessed based on the quantity and quality of drawings, labels in drawings, etc.). Giving useful feedback about the lab notebook can be very time-consuming and, therefore, rubrics (i) let students know beforehand what is expected from them, and (ii) allow assessment to be relatively quick and accountable at the end of the course. In addition, students must solve and deliver a quiz after each practical session. Answers are regularly provided so that students can also have feedback about their performance throughout the course.