Coordinating Lab Sections Made Easy
REActivities is a not only a guided experience for the students but also serves as a structured platform to guide instructor training, and weekly coordination meeting discussions. Given the stop sign icons, instructors can prepare themselves for key concept questions and discuss common hang ups on student learning.
Additionally, virtual lab videos are available for each lab (August 2020) that can also serve to prepare a novice graduate TA or help a new adopter anticipate what to expect.
Weekly Discussion Points
Identifying student choice within a given lab and role playing responses to stop signs given the students' choices when checking in with the instructor.
Identifying scaffolding concepts so as to effectively demonstrate how to circle back within the the same REActivity when asked for help on post-lab questions.
Identifying repetitive concepts so as to effectively indicate how to circle back to previous labs when asked for help on concepts already covered. A discussion on previous notebook entries in addition to workbook pages could be mapped here to remind instructors on how to encourage students to look back in their own lab notebook.
Encouraging productive inter-group discussions as they pertain to group discussion opportunities within the REActivity.
How to outsource stop sign checkpoints to better manage a large lab. Student groups who have spoken with the instructor at a stop sign can help nearby groups when they arrive at the same stop sign as managed by the instructor.
Weekly Reminders about Common Pitfalls
Discuss how to help without saying to the student their choice was correct or incorrect.
Discuss the balance of keeping students moving at all times (REActivities have little to no down time) while maintaining flexibility. Students should be allowed to finish minor activities the following week.
Reminding the instructors to let the students self-start and abstain from pre-lab lecturing.
Allowing students to play. Often students have fun during the practice time and will ask to "try something" given what they just learned. As long as it is safe and within reason, let the students take time to explore. The students are allowed to go off script.
It is recommended that there be an extra day at the end of the semester for the students to wrap things up if certain groups were always a step behind. Having a degree of flexibility in the graded items as it relates to the completion of the lab is both appreciated by the students, earns more time to absorb the concepts avoiding the mad rush, and fosters the notion that science can't always be conducted in neat and tidy time frames. Encourage your instructors to pass along this message.