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Idaho State University

Learning Environment

A comfortable learning environment makes it easier for a student to learn and the instructor to teach. Interact compassionately and respectfully with your students in a timely manner and it will be easier to maintain your presence as an authoritative instructor.


Most lesson plans for an entire course are constructed as follows:

  1. Aim
  2. Objectives
  3. Methodology
  4. Outcomes
  5. Assessments

The Aim of a lab course is described in the course catalog. The Objectives are listed at the beginning of each Unit.  The Methodology and Outcomes are the activities and exercises for each lab as described in the task sheets. The Assessments are the quizzes and completed task sheets the students turn in for the instructor to grade.

The majority of the lesson planning has been created for each lab course. However, each lab instructor has additional lesson planning responsibilities that will allow the instructor to enter the teaching lab with more confidence and maximizes their chance of having a meaningful learning experience with their students. Laboratory instructor lesson planning is a three step activity.

  1. Planning and preparation before lab - study the terminology, task sheet, and presentations, read any supporting literature available, complete the lab exercises, create quizzes and assigned seating
  2. Lab management - determine the time at which each task sheet activity will start and end for each lab period while also keeping time for the introduction and quizzes, enforce lab rules and expectations for student behavior
  3. Student assessment - give the quizzes, grade the quizzes and task sheets*

*Quizzes are used to assess a student's knowledge base and motivate the student to:

  • study the terminology and task sheet before attending lab; purpose - reduces a student's cognitive load while conducting the lab exercise
  • attend lab on time (pre-) and stay (post-) for the duration of the lab period; purpose - reduces disruptions by students attending late or rushing to leave lab early



A Biology concepts and the act of reading directions within the task sheets are difficult for some students. This does not mean that you require nothing of them but that you relate to what they are experiencing. Allow them to express their confusion without reacting in an excessively lenient or harsh manner.
B Grading:
  • Grade systematically - grade the same page of an assignment or the same question for all students.  This alleviates some grading inconsistencies that can be caused by grading fatigue and bias.  
  • Use ink to mark, in a color other than that used in the assignment.
  • Mark an "X" or slash mark through blank spaces.
  • Double check addition and the mark given.
  • Avoid the temptation to edit the paper for the student.
  • Give students enough information to guide them with improvements for subsequent assignments.
  • Do not make sarcastic or rude comments.
  • Feedback needs to be specific.
  • Remember positive as well as constructive criticism.
  • Draw attention to areas that need further explanation or work.
  • If you are repeating the same comments on all student’s papers, consider making a summary sheet of ways to improve student performance for the entire class.
  • Keep a duplicate copy of all student records.
C The students are at the beginning of their educational careers and need your help. As they work through the lab exercises they will;
  • Gain Transferable Skills.
  • Familiarize themselves with the language of biology and science or become more proficient in the language. 
  • Use and improve their critical reasoning, analytical, and communications skills.
  • Gain practical laboratory experience that will prepare them for advanced biology or health science courses.


A Maintain a professional relationship with the students as stated in Faculty Student Relationships ISUPP 4080. Friendships or romances with your students are not recommended. If it is necessary, please wait until after grades have been submitted to the registrars by the lecture instructors.
B Comply with the U.S. Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA). Please read: ISU Faculty/Staff & FERPA.
C Comply with ISU Policy and Procedures for academic dishonesty.
D Comply with ISU Policy and Procedures for disruptive behavior.
E Comply with Disability Policy and Procedures.
1 a: of, relating to, or characteristic of a profession
   b: engaged in one of the learned professions
   c:  (1): characterized by or conforming to the technical or ethical standards of a profession
        (2): exhibiting a courteous, conscientious, and generally businesslike manner in the workplace
2: following a line of conduct as though it were a profession

Examples of unprofessional behavior:

  • Talking excessively about your personal life.
  • Using swear words.
  • Talking about drinking or how much you partied the night before.

Expressing too much of your individuality can erode the students’ respect for you. They come from varying backgrounds and may perceive your behavior as inappropriate. Once you lose their respect, it is difficult to maintain authority.




A Move around the lab, helping the students complete their task sheets by guiding them.
B Guide your students by asking each lab group questions that pertain to the exercise they are completing.
C Answer each lab group’s questions without being condescending or rude.
D If you feel that their questions are something they should have read, you can ask questions to help them answer their own questions or you can refer them to specific pages in the lab manual or textbook.
E If you do not know the answer, work with your students to find the answer.
F Motivating Students
A It is very important that you arrive to lab at least 10 minutes before the scheduled lab time. This will allow you to be prepared for adminstration of assigned seating and the pre-quiz.
B DO NOT use your phone during lab. Please put it away. The students are not allowed to use their phones during lab and you need to lead by example.
C Have the students complete all exercises in their task sheets before the end of lab (unless otherwise indicated in the task sheet).
D Do not have students skip sections in the task sheet because you want to leave lab early.
E Do not use lab time for grading.
F Do not work on your own projects during lab time.
G Follow up discussions can be given at the end of lab when everybody has completed the task sheet.


Contract hours:
Weeks 18
Hours/week 19
Hours/semester 342


Hours breakdown for a full contracted semester:
Teaching in lab <84
Instructor meetings <24
Grading ~124; 9 hrs. per lab week
Lab prep (reading task sheets and textbook chapters, taking training quizzes, creating student quizzes & presentations, going to your lab section 30 minutes to 1 hour before teaching to prepare.  <80
Tutoring/office hours 13
Reading and responding to emails <14
Exam proctoring  3
Total  342

Assigned seating is mandatory and begins the first week of labs. The seating arrangement needs to change each week. Export the spreadsheet as a pdf file each week (the students will usually have a different seat number each time you open the spreadsheet). Project the file as students walk into the lab. Save the file to keep a record of weely seating. The AS workbook consists of one spreadsheet for each lab section (see the tabs at the bottom of the Excel software). Add student names to the spreadsheets by exporting the Moodle child courses gradebook for your sections as an Excel file. To add students and use the function:

  1. Enable content.
  2. Select cell C2 which displays a function similar to the one below: =RANK(B2,B$2:B$22,1)
  3. Edit the B$22 part of the function by replacing 22 with the number of students in the lab section plus 1. Ex. you have 24 students so the function becomes =RANK(B2,B$2:B$25,1)
  4. Drag the seat number function and the random number function (i.e. RAND()) down column B and C to the last student in the list. Ex. you have 24 students so the function for last student on the list will be in C25 and the function in C25 is =RANK(B26,B$2:B$25,1)