Make-up work

When students miss a lab activity, what are some meaningful ways they can make up the work? — R., Oregon

Most students don’t want to miss lab investigations, but when they do, it can affect their learning in the rest of the unit. Finding time for make-up work outside of class can be difficult in a busy schedule or for bus riders.

It’s also hard to keep equipment and supplies set up for an extended time, especially if you teach more than one subject or share the lab or equipment with other teachers.

Here are some suggestions:

  • For each investigation, create an alternate assignment on the topic, such as a report or project addressing the same learning goals. (However, this would require you plan two separate activities and create rubrics and due dates for the alternate.)
  • Provide a link to a virtual lab, video, or simulation on the topic. (Other students may appreciate the opportunity for the additional experience.)
  • Give the student a copy of the question and have a member of the absentee’s lab team explain the investigation and share the data. The absentee would be responsible for completing the assigned report on the activity, using the data and observations to respond to the original question. Model and practice this with the students so they know what to expect if they miss a lab.
  • Ask one group to take photos or a video of the activity as they do it. Post this on the class website so the absent students can follow along with the procedure, record the data, and complete the summary/report. This may sound like a lot of work, but you only need one presentation per activity. This may require some practice by the student-videographers.


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3 Responses to Make-up work

  1. Harry E. Keller says:

    Some schools provide students with lab data to write up. Some use online animated simulations. Neither “paper labs” nor cartoon labs really deliver the experience necessary to learn science — as opposed to memorizing science material.
    The best alternative provides an online experience that uses real experiments AND requires that students make hands-on measurements from those experiments. Ideally, this experience takes place in a 5E learning scaffold. Repeated experience demonstrates the value of this approach.
    Harry Keller
    Smart Science Education Inc.

  2. Steve Hatchel says:

    I typically have 9 or 10 lab stations set up. After the lab I will leave one station up for two additional days. Students are able to come in at lunch or after school to do the lab. Typically I’ll have 4-5 students who come in at lunch, which makes a good sized lab group and they do the lab together even though they may be from different periods.

  3. Karen Ingersoll says:

    Paper lab alternatives and giving students data may work in some states but New York State has regents exam requirements that students have 1200 minutes of actual lab time so they have to come in after school or study hall and actually do the lab. I, like Steve Hatchel leave a station set up for a week or so for students to come in and make it up. With only one or two students, it usually goes much faster for the make up group.

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