Assessing Laboratory Learning


The laboratory is a unique learning environment that enables and consolidates "learning through doing". Assessing this learning can enhance students' conceptual understanding of the theory–practice relationship, their higher level reasoning skills and the development of their practical competence in laboratory work.

It is important that you clarify the specific objectives of the laboratory context for learning, for both students and assessors. These objectives should form the basis for all assessment decisions made. Learning outcomes that can be assessed using laboratory work include:

  • technical and manipulative skills in using laboratory equipment, tools, materials, computer software
  • an understanding of laboratory procedures, including health and safety, and scientific methods
  • a deeper understanding of abstract concepts and theories gained by experiencing and visualising them as authentic phenomena
  • the skills of scientific enquiry and problem-solving, including:
    • recognising and defining a problem
    • formulating hypotheses
    • designing experiments
    • collecting data through observation and/or experimentation
    • interpreting data
    • testing hypotheses
    • drawing conclusions
    • communicating processes, outcomes and their implications.
  • the complementary skills of collaborative learning and teamwork in laboratory settings
  • understanding, and being prepared for, future possible roles in laboratory-based work.

Additional information