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Record Writing

Viva - Voce

Learning.. How to Do Things!

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            N.M.S Desai

       Associate Professor

         HOD,CSE, KITE.

        

    “If you can't explain to the charwoman who is scrubbing your laboratory floor what you are doing you don’t know what you are doing.”

    -Ernest Rutherford

          The quote by Rutherford summarizes the essence of the objective of Laboratories. The concepts should be understood by even non-technical persons. Laboratory sessions are an integral component of all engineering courses. In each semester, the students are required to undergo course in five or six theory subjects of which two have associated lab sessions. In some rare cases theory course is studied in one semester while its corresponding lab is offered in the next semester. On an average lab courses constitutes about 25% of the course work in each semester except the first year where lab courses account for nearly 50% of the courses offered. Laboratory courses contribute 20-30% of the maximum marks in higher semesters.

    Aims of Laboratory Practices
    Lab sessions are provided to the students with the following objectives

    1. *  Stimulate interest in theory subjects and motivate them
    2. *  Help learn how to link theory with practice
    3. *  Develop skills and techniques through practice
    4. *  Understand how to use the equipment
    5. *  Develop scientific temperament and problem solving techniques
    6. *  Improve observational skills
    7. * Develop the skills of analyzing and justifying the difference in expected     versus actual results
    8. *  Drawing conclusions and evaluative skills
    9. *  Learn the ability to work as a team member and hence develop personal skills
    10. *  Encourage the student to think on different ways and practicing in the
          subject - learning to think and behave like, for example, an engineer or a
          chemist
    11. *  Encourage the students to develop the art of experimenting which is very
          essential to engineering
    12. *  Help the students develop the skills and attitude necessary for a successful
          professional career
    13. *  Opportunities for staff and students to get to know each other and discuss
          the discipline   

        In the first year students are usually asked to follow protocols and familiarise themselves with basic methods and equipment.  In later years students will be expected to design and plan their own experiments and investigations which could ultimately conclude with the students undertaking a major piece of individual project work
    The real scenario in the Colleges
        Syllabus of Experiments for the lab subjects are prescribed by the University. Generally these experiments are covered theoretically in the class rooms. Students are expected to practice these experiments and observe the results. In many cases, this does not happen. Lab manuals are provided to the students that consist of a readymade solution to the experiments, students are made to copy form these manuals and records submit as records.
    How to do Lab Practice

        The key learning objective of labs and practical is “learning how to do things and having the knowledge of how things work”. Unless one is inquisitive, this objective cannot be achieved. This requires all the three entities viz., management, staff and students, to fulfill their commitments. However, faculty is more responsible for ensuring that the students learn by practice in the laboratories.
    Following are some of the guidelines for the faculty to empower the student. These guidelines should also be followed by the student as they benefit them only.

    Designing an activity for a laboratory or practical class

    * Establish a clear outcome of what skills/knowledge the student is expected to    have at the end of the lab session both in terms of the subject knowledge    and experimentation skills
    * Establish a clear policy on the aims and objectives of the lab sessions in    terms of expected investigational skills to be acquired by the student,    additional exercises that would help student in improving his/her    understanding of the concepts etc
    * Make sure that lab session helps the student in consolidating the theoretical    understanding of the concept
    * Give a brief of the theory on which the lab experiment is based
    * Demonstrate the experiments and highlight need for explanation and theory
    * Encourage students to discuss about the theory and implications

    Optimum teaching strategies and student learning activities to enhance student learning in laboratory sessions
    * Identify some of the essential skills required by the student to do the lab and    impress upon the student to have those skills
    * In addition, educate the students on additional skills required in the discipline    that the employers expect the student to have acquired
    * Establish a learning model that helps the student bridge the gap between    theory and practice
    * Clarity on the part of the student as to what the task is
    * Time frame about when the task should be carried out
    * Tools, equipment, and materials needed to complete the experiment
    * Make the lab manual available to student but ensure that the student learns    how to conduct the experiment
    * Inculcate the sense of learning by observation
    * Encourage the student to illustrate what is taught in the class rooms
    * Prepare questions for viva-voce for each lab session and conduct viva to    each student to assess the level of understanding of the student
    * Give the examples of the real life applications of the experiment done by the    student

    Suggested Evaluation Criteria

        Generally standard procedure is prescribed by the University for the Evaluation of the student in the labs. In case it is not prescribed by the university, develop an evaluation system. Suggested division of marks could be the following

    * Earmark some marks for doing experiments and showing results, observation    book, record submission, regularity in attending the labs, incentives for doing    experiments beyond the syllabus
    * Conduct at least two internal tests. Best of these may be taken as a     component that adds to the total marks secured by the student
    * Develop grading system in the lab under the guidance of the head of the     department
    * Evaluate the student for the ability to interpret from data
    * Evaluate the performance of the student in every lab session and grade the    student in each lab
    * Conduct viva-voce in every lab session
    * Make a table showing the marks secured by each student in each of the    above components
    * The marks secured by the student can be the average of the performances    at the end of the semester. This ensures that each student is encouraged to
     perform better and there is a rational system established in the lab    evaluation criteria

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