The Lab Report is the prototypical technical and scientific document. Almost all other technical and scientific communication is a variation on the lab report.
In this module you will work with a set of quantitative data that you collect in an experiment and then write a lab report including the core graphic for quantitative data, the line graph. You will practice reworking text in the experiment’s prompt directed to you as a student transforming it into a lab report written by you as a researcher and directed to a lab instructor.
You will also work with the set of qualitative data you collected in the first discussion board, that is, the reasons people in the class have the first names they do, reporting the data in a PowerPoint that would support an oral report and including the core graphic for qualitative data, the bar graph (or its cousin the pie chart).
I’m fond of the comparison below from the Dewitt Wallace Library at Macalester College:
In Module 3, you will become acquainted with the core document of technical communications, the lab report.
Module Level Objectives (MLOs):
Upon successful completion of this module, you will…
1. Report and analyze quantitative and qualitative datasets.
2. Analyze data for a report.
3. Recognize how audience and purpose exert pressure on report form and style.
4. Deploy a few core visual elements for technical communication.
5. Correctly use a lab report format to fit the audience.
6. Correctly use a PowerPoint format to support an oral report.
Course Level Objectives (CLOs) Addressed:
Essential Skills: Communication, Critical Thinking, and Information & Digital Literacy
CLO 1: Define the purpose, audience, and objective for a given technical document, analyzing the primary audience for that communication.
CLO 2: Design/format the pages and visuals for a document, as well as prepare and present oral presentations and briefings.
CLO 3: Correctly use the format for several types of technical documents, including procedures, proposals, and job application materials.
Graded Assignments (60 points total):
(5 points) A post-first discussion board on the audience and purpose for a lab report, as well as a few notes on how YOU read when you are in a hurry (due at 5 p.m., Wednesday, October 5) (MLO 3, CLO 1)
(5 points) A separate submission of your graph of the continuous data from the experiment that you also incorporate into your lab report (due at midnight, Saturday, October 8 ) (MLOs 1&5, CLO 2)
(5 points) A short exercise on critiquing a PowerPoint slide (MLO 6)(due Saturday, October 8)
(20 points) Your set of slides reporting on the reasons students in our class have the names they do, including a graphic summarizing the categorical data we collected in our first discussion board (the reasons for students’ names (due midnight, Saturday, October 8) (MLOs 1, 3, &6, CLO 2)
(25 points) A publish of your lab report, with a firm deadline of Saturday, October 8, 11:59 p.m. (MLOs 1, 2, 4, &5, CLO 2)
Your finalized lab report will be due 1 week from when I return it to you with comments. (MLOs 4&5, CLO 3)
In this module, you’ll do a lab and write a lab report (along with several smaller exercises). I will give you feedback on your lab report before you revise it. The revision of the lab report is mandatory.
Read (while this reading list looks lengthy, much of it is asking you to look at examples):
Pages 19.1 and 19.4 – 19.7 on informational reports and lab reports in Howdy or Hello?
Chapter 14 on oral reports in Howdy or Hello?
Chapter 7 on Design (this chapter is outstanding, by the way) in Howdy or Hello?
The example primary research report, “Research on Trout Spawning Cycles,” accessed at Trout Spawning primary research report . This report is an example of a lab report modified for a publication that accepts primary research reports. The author of this web page is one of the authors of the Howdy or Hello? text.
Watch the two videos (total of about 1-1/2 minutes), and read the text on this Purdue University webpage (URL in case link doesn’t work – https://guides.lib.purdue.edu/c.php?g=352816&p=2377942). The example lab reports listed under the videos are indeed good examples, and I think the most typical one is the lab report on determining the alcoholic content of whiskey.
This informative discussion about the parts of writing lab reports (URL if the link doesn’t work – https://writingcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/scientific-reports/).
This example of a bad lab report with comments in red from an instructor (URL if hyperlink doesn’t work – https://www.reed.edu/writing/paper_help/labreport_bad.html)
Please notice how YOU read when you are in a hurry, and provide a few notes in this week’s discussion board, in addition to identifying the audience and purpose for your lab report.
I have created a Module 3 forum for you to participate in by 5pm on Oct 5. Choose the Discussions selection in the dropdown for Course Work in the top taskbar. In this discussion, I want you to give me some bullet points on the audience and purpose for a lab report such as you are developing in this module, as well as notes on what you do to get through a bunch of reading quickly.
Do the attached experiment: Experiment promptClick for more options
Collect data (there’s a table in the prompt to fill in as you get results & then you must graph your results). It’s best if you collect your data and graph it before the teleconference on Wednesday, October 5).
Addresses MLOs 1, 2, 4, and 5, as well as all three CLOs 2 & 3
publish of your lab report, including your graph, due October 8, 11:59 p.m. NOTE: You will need to repurpose and reformat the content in the Experiment Prompt. For example, lab reports are written in third person, except for the Methodology. The lab’s prompt is written in second person. Be sure to look at the examples in the reading.
Final version of your lab report, due 1 week from when I return it to you with comments for revision
As mentioned earlier in this module, you will be producing two types of graphics this week, one that graphs the continuous numerical (quantitative) data you collect in the experiment mixing baking soda and vinegar and one that illustrates the discontinuous categorical (qualitative) data you and your classmates compiled on the reasons parents name their children what they do.
Here are some helpful resources:
Read this page from Rice University of common mistakes and when to graph (URL if link doesn’t work: https://www.ruf.rice.edu/~bioslabs/tools/data_analysis/graphic_examples.html)
Watch this 10-minute video called A Beginner’s Guide to Graphing (URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9BkbYeTC6Mo)
Here’s a 2.5-minute video on making a line graph in Excel:
Microsoft PowerPoint Guidelines
Don’t type your presentation word-for-word on the slides. When you write every word of your presentation completely on the screen, you’ll lose the audience’s attention every time.
Use color and design to add interest.
Don’t read your presentation from the slides or notes.
Don’t overdo the special effects.
Use a consistent design, font, color scheme, etc.
Use consistent graphics that are similar in appearance.
Include only essential information.
Use contrasting colors.
Use the Rule of Sevens; no more than seven lines per slide, and no more than seven words per line.
Use only one idea per slide.
Use simple font styles for readability (e.g., Arial, Tahoma, Verdana).
Don’t use more than two fonts per slide.
Don’t use ALL CAPS.
Use fonts in sizes ranging from 18 to 48 points.
Follow bullets with a capital letter.
Make graphics face the middle of the slide.
Use no more than three graphics per slide.
Proofread carefully. Nothing worse than having your typos projected 3 feet tall.
Formulate a backup plan in case of equipment failure.
Attached is an exercise on PowerPoint guidelines: PowerPoint Exercise
Submit a PowerPoint report that includes a graphic (a pie chart or a bar chart) that summarizes the reasons why your classmates have the names they do.
Here is an example from a previous semester: Example report from a different semester