To the Student:
The laboratory experience is an integral part of a general biology course. This manual serves as a guide for that experience, and it is required by the instructors that you read the exercises and do the pre-lab activities before you come to the lab. Make sure you download and/or print out the materials that you will need for performing the scheduled laboratory exercise. Time on task is necessary if you wish to finish the lab session within its time frame (three hours). This makes organization and pre-lab preparation very important. If you must go to the computer lab during the lab session to print out materials you should have on hand before you start the lab, then your valuable time is lost. If you do not have a clear, basic understanding of what you are to do during the lab session then you are wasting time, and potentially endangering yourself and others because of poor lab work, and this can result in the refusal by the instructor of allowing you to participate in the lab session.
Each laboratory exercise is divided into three main parts, each having several subsections. Below is a general outline:
Read each laboratory exercise carefully and follow any highlighted hyperlinks to other pages in the manual, the Learning Resource Center (LRC), or to the WWW (World Wide Web). It is important that you have a general understanding of what you will be doing in the lab, so read the objectives at the beginning. Read and printout any protocols for performing the tasks during the laboratory session. Sometimes it is good just to have a "reader" who follows the protocol and informs and directs the other students in the lab group how to do the task at hand.
Data collection is very important, and good data results when protocols are followed, time is taken when performing the tasks, and the data is properly recorded. Analyzing the data and drawing conclusions from it is of great importance. It is in essence, why you performed the lab exercise. It is therefore a necessity that you and your lab group do preliminary analysis such as making graphs; answering questions; discussing the results with the instructor and members of your lab group; before you leave.
It is also important that you clean up your lab station and return all materials and equipment to the place designated by the instructor and wash you hands well before you leave the lab.
If you follow the recommendations listed above then the laboratory experience will be a pleasant one in which you will learn much about the living world and the way in which science operates.
Dr. Safianu Rabiu, Associate Professor of Biology