Lab Report Writing Assignment Design
Although all engineering instructors are professional writers, they may struggle with assigning writing projects to students. Well-designed writing assignments lead directly to student learning. Traci Gardner from the National Council of Teachers of English identifies three goals for a writing assignment:
define the writing task.
define the expectations.
provide supporting materials and activities.
To support student learning and writing in the context of lab report writing, engineering instructors should address the following to students as explicitly as possible when preparing lab report assignments:
Define the lab writing task:
the audience (who is the specific audience, such as instructors, engineers, peers, or the public?).
the pedagogical purpose of the lab report (why is the assignment given?).
the “fictitious” professional or academic purpose of the lab report (what is the context and genre of the report?).
Define expectations for the lab writing task:
specific requirements related to the technical objectives.
checklists or presentation expectations (format, submission, deadline, etc.).
assessment rubrics (or any type of grading guidelines). The details of assessment rubric design and development are introduced in the Lab Report Assessment Rubric Module.
Provide supplemental and supporting materials:
acceptable sample reports with or without addressing the standard conventions of finished and edited texts.
unacceptable sample reports with or without addressing the standard conventions of finished and edited texts.
a list of recommended reading resources.
other resources to assist students’ writing process.
Assignment examples for different types of lab reports are offered here:
lab report as a technical report.
lab report as a research paper.
lab report as a memorandum or letter.
lab report as a technical memorandum.
These examples can be opened in Google Docs and downloaded as common filetypes by hovering over the example and clicking the button.