|Stone walkway, 2014|
At Big State University, I was part of a teaching assistant (TA) team tackling Chemistry 101 lab. These were classic experiments: density, dilutions, diffracting light, quantitative analysis, titrations, measuring exotherms. TAs not only ran labs, but lectured beforehand, graded reports, filled out student evaluations, and tallied final grades.
While the content wasn't enough to weed out dedicated students, the lab policies certainly may have been. The implied ideology went: "if you can't follow these rules now, you'll never cut the higher-level labs."
Pass in a report 1 minute past the start of lecture? Zero.
Handwritten report? Zero.
Blatant disregard for lab equipment? Zero.
Show up to lab without proper PPE? Go home.
If a student had not replaced broken glassware by semester's end? Fail.
Evidence of plagiarism from the lab manual or suspected from others' reports? Fail.
Miss the final exam? (Yes, a final lab exam...) Fail.
Though the TAs tried valiantly to
corral teach the ~400 students who came through our section each semester, my honest memory was that we usually kept fewer than 250 by term's end.