We caught up with Michelle Driessen, Professor and Director of General Chemistry at the University of Minnesota. She is a long time LabArchives user and we’ve had the pleasure of working with her, her TAs and students for several years. Michelle took a few minutes out of her busy schedule to give us an inside look at how she uses LabArchives in her courses, what works, what doesn’t and how she brings her TAs and students up to speed with the tool each semester.
What courses do you use LabArchives for?
All of our general chemistry lab courses (General Chemistry I, General Chemistry II, and the honors sections of these courses).
How big are these courses? Do you have TAs?
General Chemistry has around 1500 enrollments each fall, ~1000 each spring. In total, more than 4000 enrollments each year use LabArchives in our labs. I have a large number of TAs who teach each lab section.
How do you organize your course in LA?
I put all of the traditional lab “manual” content in to the LabArchives platform, all grading rubrics and supplementary materials. It is essentially my lab course website, manual and electronic notebook.
Does LA save you time as an instructor?
Yes! Copying courses forward to a new semester and making updates is extremely easy. I don’t have to prep a print manual in advance of the semester or spend time proofing and printing it.
Biggest challenges when introducing the tool to students?
Turning in group work is a bit of a learning curve for students. But we allow resubmissions of the first few assignments so students can get familiar with course expectations and the platform.
Most valuable LabArchives feature for you as an instructor?
That my lab manual is a living document that I can continuously update! Also that I can look at how any of my TAs are grading, what type of comments they leave students and WHEN they do this.
How much of your course collateral (lab manual, textbook, assignments, lectures, readings, notes etc.) lives inside of LabArchives? ALL!!
Do you ever miss paper grading? Does LabArchives help you and your TAs grade more efficiently?
Never! I believe grading is quite efficient in the platform. The LTI integration with learning management systems like Canvas etc. makes this even better.
Any advice you can offer instructors and TAs using LabArchives for the first time?
As an instructor, I hold a short training where my new TAs pretend they are students entering the lab for the first time. They get instruction/modeling from an experienced TA so they know exactly where students will have questions and challenges.