Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Industrial Education and Technology

First Advisor

Steven A. Freeman


Can a succinct "synopsis" laboratory report format provide students with an equivalent learning experience to the lengthier, introduction/results/conclusion, "traditional" laboratory report format? A convenience sample of 56 Iowa State University industrial technology students was randomized into two groups; one was required to write five synopsis reports followed by four traditional reports and the other was required to write five traditional reports followed by four synopsis reports. No statistically significant differences in exam scores were discovered (at the □ = 0.05 level) between students who wrote synopsis reports and those who wrote traditional reports when analyzed with the Latin Square Design (p = 0.932); when mean laboratory report scores were analyzed with the paired-samples t-test (p = 0.843); or when the mean scores of the nine individual laboratory reports were analyzed with two-sample t-tests (for seven of the nine reports). The 95% confidence intervals of the paired-samples t-test analyses of instructor grading times and student writing times revealed that synopsis reports required 4 to 6 fewer minutes for instructors to grade than traditional reports (p < 0.001) and that synopsis reports required 32 to 44 fewer minutes for students to write than traditional reports (p < 0.001). For a class of 25 students writing 10 lab reports each, the synopsis format would reduce student mean writing time by a minimum of 5.5 hours and save the instructor at least 18.6 hours of mean grading time;Composite American College Testing (ACT) score covariance analysis indicated that neither report format favored students with ACT scores of a particular range, and also confirmed that ACT scores are a good predictor of higher grades. The results of an end-of-semester "exit survey" revealed that students not only preferred the synopsis format to the traditional format (p < 0.001), but also perceived that the synopsis format helped them achieve higher exam scores (p = 0.039), required them to think more deeply about the content (p = 0.001), and helped them to achieve higher grades on their laboratory reports (p = 0.002).



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

David William Hoffa



Proquest ID


File Format


File Size

231 pages