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General FAQ

The General FAQ is for questions that relate to general ChemLab policies or logistics. If you have a question about a specific experiment please use the weekly FAQ pages found in the Chem 5 or Chem 6 experiments sections.

FAQ Index

Question 1


When is the first week of lab?


Question 2


I need to transfer lab sections due to a scheduling conflict. How can this be done?


Question 3


What should I bring to lab?


Question 4


Where do I get all the things I am supposed to bring to lab?


Question 5


What else should I do before the first week of lab?


Question 6


I only have a few pages left in my chemistry lab notebook. Where can I purchase a new notebook?


Question 7


I've talked with my friends in other lab sections with different TAs and it seems like they are being graded much less harshly than my section is. I'm confused by the disparity and frustrated by my TA taking off points for things that other TAs do not deduct points for. Could you please explain how lab grading is handled?


Submissions


Submit a question or an answer to the FAQ

Questions & Answers

Question 1


When is the first week of lab?





Lab for Chem 5 and Chem 6 generally begins during the first full week of the term, unless classes begin on Monday. For Fall term, 2011 classes begin Wednesday, September 21th, and labs begin the following week.


Question 2


I need to transfer lab sections due to a scheduling conflict. How can this be done?





The registrar assigns the lab sections, and we give students an opportunity to change assignments at the start of each term. The switching procedure is described on the Lab Switches page.

If lab has already begun and you need to switch to a different lab section temporarily, because you are sick or have an academic or athletic conflict, you can request a temporary switch using the form on the page linked above.


Question 3


What should I bring to lab?





Bring your lab manual, your lab notebook, a pen, a calculator, and your goggles to lab each week.


Question 4


Where do I get all the things I am supposed to bring to lab?





This information in included in the General Laboratory Information handout that you will get at the start of the course. Here is where you get each of the items required for the first lab period:

lab manual: Wheelock Books (for about $10)

lab notebook: These are passed out before and after lecture, during the first week of the course. Make sure you pick one up before coming to lab. The cost of the notebook is included in your lab fee.

goggles: Chemistry Stockroom, 017 Burke (about $9)


Question 5


What else should I do before the first week of lab?





Read the lab manual from the beginning to the end of the first experiment. This includes the safety information, general information about the lab, and the introduction and procedure for the first experiment. Prepare your lab notebook as described in the manual or on this website on the How to Keep a Notebook page. Your prelab includes completing the assigned prelab problems and your lab notebook should include an Objective, Reference, Prelab Procedure, and Sample Calculations or Analysis Flowchart or Outline, when appropriate.


Question 6


I only have a few pages left in my chemistry lab notebook. Where can I get a new notebook?





You can get a new notebook from a TA in the lab or at office hours.


Question 7


I've talked with my friends in other lab sections with different TAs and it seems like they are being graded much less harshly than my section is. I'm confused by the disparity and frustrated by my TA taking off points for things that other TAs do not deduct points for. Could you please explain how lab grading is handled?





TAs are given a point breakdown for the different parts of the lab write-up but have autonomy in deciding how to allocate those points and in deciding how much to deduct for various mistakes or errors. Each week the TAs compare their averages for the lab write-up scores, and we try to keep them all within a point of each other. Then at the end of the term, the lab professor will scale the grades to further reduce any differences from TA to TA.

At the end of the term, each student's total lab score is compared to the average for the student's TA, and each TA average is compared to the overall average for the entire class. First each student's total score is scaled up or down, to make each TA average the same. Thus, students in a group with a lower average are scaled up and those in a group with a higher average are scaled down. There are also some additional weighting factors applied to lab grades. Above-average scores are scaled less than those that are below average. Students of higher-average TAs are scaled less than those of lower-average TAs. The final result is that students in the average range with lower-average TAs are scaled up as much as 4 points out of 100. Students of higher-average TAs with lab scores near the average are scaled down by a maximum of closer to 2 points out of 100. The scaling alogrithm assumes that lower grades are the result of harsh grading and scales them up. The higher grades are scaled less, assuming that these show differences between student performance as well as TA grading.

The most important thing you can do to improve your lab scores is to talk with your TA about what he or she expects in your lab report at the end of each experiment. Ask your TA specific questions about expectations for an excellent lab report. You could also come to your TA's office hours with your report and ask him or her to look at it before you turn it in and tell you what could be improved. This will be the best route to an improved score on your remaining lab reports.

Submissions

Submit to the FAQ


If you have either a question or an answer to a question about general ChemLab policies or procedures, please email it to your lab instructor. You will receive a reply to your submission, and we may also add it to this General FAQ page.

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