Panel: What is the point of instructional lab?

Document Type


Presentation Date

Winter 2-7-2012

Conference Name

American Association of Physics Teachers Winter Meeting 2012

Conference Location

Ontario CA


Instructional labs have been an integral part of physics education

for a very long time; arguably since the creation of the discipline.

However, to this date there is no clear concise agreement on what

the real point is of a lab. That is, what do we want the students to

take away from the experience? What specifically is the pedagogical

advantage of a lab? Why not just teach theory in a classroom,

it is much cheaper and less time consuming? If we don’t know the

answers to these questions it is very difficult to maximize the effectiveness

of our labs and to successfully compete for appropriate

funding. In this session, five panel members will have 10 minutes

to express their views with the remaining half hour for questions

and open discussion.


– Priscilla W. Laws, Dickinson College

– Linda Barton, Rochester Institute of Technology

– Mark F. Masters, IPFW

– Randy Tagg, University of Colorado Denver

– Noah Finkelstein, University of Colorado Boulder



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