Lab Report Format - Teacher Guidelines
Grades 9-12 (High School) - September 12, 2005 revision
Title: The title should be in larger letters than the rest of the document, be centered horizontally and reflect the content of the report.
Question: The question is the scientifically researchable question the student is attempting to answer. Sometimes it is a question that requires systematic observation. Sometimes it is a question that is a true experiment. It cannot be a yes or no question. It must lead to specific steps, be a question that can be answered by using scientific process, use equipment that is available and be focused and specific.
Background: This is the place to record definitions, previous knowledge, and related research used to help answer the question and generate a hypothesis.
Prediction/Hypothesis: The hypothesis is a possible answer to the student’s question. It must refer back to the question and is based on the student’s background knowledge. It should be an “If ____________ (manipulated variable) then ____________ (responding variable) because ________________” statement. Avoid using pronouns (it, you she …) and general words such as thing, stuff…
Materials: The equipment list should be a bulleted list of the equipment needed to perform the task. It should include anything that someone might need to repeat the procedure.
Procedure: The student’s procedure should be a numbered list of steps that another scientist could follow to reproduce the experiment of systematic observation. Remember that quality pieces of scientific work have to be repeatable. Also, issues of safety will be discussed here. The student should have a first draft of their procedure prior to starting the work. It can be modified as they go, and changes or additions should be recorded and added to their final report.
Note: The procedure and/or the data section must include the following elements of experimental design:
- The manipulated (changed) variable
- The responding (measured) variable
- Two controlled (kept the same) variables
- Experimental control (control group)
- Validity measures (i.e. cleaning equipment between trials)
- An indication of measurements being recorded
- Repeated trials
Data/Analysis: This is the place a student records raw data collected during the procedure. All treatment of the data including graphs and calculations are also recorded in this section.
Conclusion: Every conclusion must include the following four attributes:
- Restate the prediction or hypothesis.
- Clearly state whether the prediction/hypothesis was correct or give a correct answer to the investigative question.
- Provide the range of data from high to low.
- Explain how the data supports or rejects the hypothesis or answers the question.
In addition, the conclusion is the place to report any errors that occurred, list any variables that were not controlled, list what would be done differently if the experiment were repeated, and ask any additional questions that come up as result of the research.