For schools and colleges where they are not already in use, September 2015 is the ideal time to introduce A level students to the laboratory log book. Log books are a quintessential part of practical science and engineering, and for students to be competent in their use before they enter industry or undergraduate labs is a great advantage both to the student and the institution. The new A level regulations requiring students to complete (at least) 12 practical activitiesdo not
require that the students employ a log book, and in a way this is a good thing.
Should the awarding organisations have decided to use log books as an
assessment tool then it could have led to artificially pristine entries with
students ‘working in rough’ and ‘copying up’ later which would defeat the
objective of the log book being a live document.
The disciplines required to keep a contemporaneous record of the practical activity without resorting to drafting, using correction fluid or ripping pages out of the book can be instilled in students during the A level course. Similarly, encouraging students to plot their graphs as they go through the practical, encourages them to identify early on when something starts to go wrong. The log book ‘ Guidance on using log books can be easily found by searching for university lab guides on-line but provided the log book contains titles, dates, diagrams, neat data tables, graphs, some consideration of uncertainties and a conclusion then they won’t go far wrong. The nature of the book itself is not of key importance though it should not be loosely bound. It should be relatively hardy to resist wear and tear and alternative graph / lined pages are an advantage. There may well be some degree of grumbling at first but you will be thanked for your perseverance later on. 1. Lancaster University Lab Manual 2012, Dr R P Haley |