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MCMP205L - MCMP 204L: What the course/instructors...

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Unformatted text preview: MCMP 204L: What the course/instructors expect from the student After reading a lot of reviews for the course, I understand that there is a lot of work to be done for the lab. There are several different assignments like the notebook, the quiz, lab report, observation sheet, the post lab exercise and sometimes a worksheet too. Now, this may seem like a lot of work, but it is not too much of work. Here is how I suggest you prepare for the lab so that you can make the most out of it by investing the least amount of time. This is no way enforcing you to do something and you are free to use your method to succeed in the course, but these guidelines are here to help you succeed in the lab. 1. Come to lab 10 minutes before time. That way, your TA can let you in (TAs are required to come to lab 20 minutes before class starts) and you can get ready for the lab. 2. Before coming to lab, read three things: a) the lab handout b) suggested reading and c) the prelab slides. By doing so, you are ensuring that you know what the experiment is about, how it is related to lecture and what the TA is going to talk about. All this should take you about an hour to do so. 3. Notebook: Now that you have read the handout, the notebook should be a 10 ­minute job. All you need to do is write the title, date and objective of the experiment. Do not write a whole detailed procedure. Your procedure should be in bullet points – very brief. For example, you need to mention what reagents you are going to mix, in what order and a brief summary of how you will isolate the products. Do not forget to write the reaction if there is one! Also, remember to put in safety and waste information. The reason why we have you write the prelab is because we want you to know what you will be doing in the lab. 4. Prelab Lecture: Why we do it? To make you understand the theory of the experiment. You are already expected to know the procedure. The prelab lecture is about 15 ­20 minutes long. If you feel that your TA goes over longer than this time frame and it affects the time available in lab, talk to your TA or Dr. Holladay. Try and take notes while your TA delivers the lecture. In reality, these pre ­labs are supposed to be interactive. Ask questions! We really encourage you to do so. 5. Observation Sheet: These are a set of 5 ­10 questions that are directly related to the experiment. You are required to answer the questions as you go along in the lab. Do not wait for the end of lab to answer these. Chances are you will have forgotten something or missed an observation. These questions are there to guide you when you write your lab report. Also, if you do not know an answer, ask your TA. 6. Lab Reports: Now, here is an assignment that can take up a lot of your time if you do not do it right. Ideally, typing up a good lab report should take you about 45 minutes. Why do I say so? Think about it. You have already read the lab, the extra reading, gone through the prelab, performed the experiment and answered the observation sheet. You have all the information you need to write the lab report. I recommend you write the lab report the same day you do the lab. Trust me, it helps. If you wait until the weekend, you may have lost a couple of papers you need or forgotten what you did in the lab and waste more time thinking about things that you should not have to. So, do it the same day! Writing up the objective, the reaction, the reaction table, the procedure and the observations should not take more than 20 minutes of your time. Because you do it on the same day, things are fresh in your memory and you can do a better job of writing it. Now I understand that you may not have melting point or IR analysis immediately, but you can always type (or handwrite) that part later on in about 2 minutes. Devote about 15 minutes to write a discussion for the lab. The guidelines for writing a good discussion are mentioned in the sample lab report. One big thing here: Ask your TA (if he/she does not announce in lab) what is expected from a lab report. If you meet Document Last Modified on Jan 4 , 2011 th your TA’s expectations, you will score better. One more important thing to keep in mind is that the “pre ­lab” questions that you answered in your notebook or the questions you answered in the observation sheet must serve as a guide for you to write your lab report. They are there for you to be used in writing the observation section of the lab report, the results portion or the discussion part. Make sure that the knowledge you gained from answering those questions is translated and reflected in your lab report. Before you turn it in, read your lab report (5 ­10 minutes). That will do two things: help you catch any mistakes and simultaneously help you prepare for the quiz! 7. Post Lab Exercises: I have heard a lot about how these PLEs are tedious, impossible and too difficult to solve without the help of a TA. I have also heard that it takes about three hours to solve it. How much of it is true? Not much. The questions in the PLE are challenging. I will not disagree with that. Are they impossible to solve without any help? No. Not at all. Here is how I would go about solving them. Usually the PLE is posted before you do the experiment. In your free time, just take a look at them and see how it looks like. You may think that these questions are way too difficult. But then, as you prepare for lab while reading all the material, try and figure out if anything from the material itself helps you answer those questions. Also, pay attention to the TA while doing the prelab. You will hear something useful. Now, once you are done with the lab report, look at the questions again. They will not seem that difficult. Work through them. Try and spend about 30 minutes to figure it out. Use the internet to do so. I guarantee you, if you use the correct search methods, you will find useful information. Then, once you have all the answers, go visit a TA and ask if your thinking was right. It should not take more than 10 minutes of your and the TA’s time to go over your PLE. The trouble comes when 35 ­40 students who have not even looked at the answers show up at an office hour. It becomes physically impossible for the TA to provide individual attention. So, if everyone comes in prepared, the TA has much more freedom to tell you personally what he/she thinks of your answer. Help the TAs help you by going to an office hour with effort put in on the PLE. 8. Quizzes: The quiz is the true reflection of your understanding of the experiment. The quiz may not have any questions from the procedure of the experiment, but will mostly always have questions based on the theory of the experiment. If you have followed all guidelines I have mentioned here, read all pertinent information, the quiz needs no preparation. Just go through the required reading in your text and the “understanding the experiment” part of your lab handout and the quiz will seem easy. 9. Who are our TAs and how they prepare to teach. Here is the big concern I hear all the time “My TA grades so harshly and the other TA gave points to my friend who wrote the exact same thing.” Granted, not all TAs are the same, but no one is. Our TAs are graduate students who are either in the first year of graduate school (which means they have a lot of classes themselves in addition to research, submitting reports and teaching) or are as advanced as the fourth or fifth (which implies that their research is demanding more and more from them) year of graduate school. Your TA has undergone an exhaustive 15 ­hour training program. They have been instructed on how to teach a lab, how to grade consistently and how to conduct an office hour. They receive a standard grading rubric for each experiment and grade accordingly. TAs meet twice a week to perform the experiment themselves and also go over the theory of the experiment. It is our continuing commitment to train and equip the TAs to the best of our abilities so that you achieve success in lab. Document Last Modified on Jan 4 , 2011 th ...
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