Reducing Student Writing Time and Instructor Grading Time of Laboratory Reports

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Hoffa, David
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Freeman, Steven
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Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering

Since 1905, the Department of Agricultural Engineering, now the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering (ABE), has been a leader in providing engineering solutions to agricultural problems in the United States and the world. The department’s original mission was to mechanize agriculture. That mission has evolved to encompass a global view of the entire food production system–the wise management of natural resources in the production, processing, storage, handling, and use of food fiber and other biological products.

In 1905 Agricultural Engineering was recognized as a subdivision of the Department of Agronomy, and in 1907 it was recognized as a unique department. It was renamed the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering in 1990. The department merged with the Department of Industrial Education and Technology in 2004.

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  • Department of Agricultural Engineering (1907–1990)

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A previous study by the authors demonstrated with 95% confidence that the synopsis laboratory report format, a brief, information-rich summary, provides students with an equally positive learning experience in comparison to the longer, introduction/results/ conclusion “traditional” laboratory report format. This study examined the additional benefits of the synopsis laboratory report format; reduced student writing time and instructor grading time. A convenience sample of 56 Iowa State University industrial technology students was randomized into one of two groups that were required to write either five synopses followed by four traditional reports or four synopses followed by five traditional reports. The analysis of grading times using the paired-samples t-test revealed that synopsis reports required 4.5 to 5.8 fewer minutes to grade than traditional reports (p < 0.001). The analysis of student writing times using the pairedsamples t-test revealed that synopsis reports required 32 to 44 fewer minutes to write than traditional reports (p < 0.001). The results of an end-of-semester exit survey revealed that students also perceived the difference in writing time (p < 0.001).


The paper, "Reducing Student Writing Time and Instructor Grading Time of Laboratory Reports (D. Hoffa and S. Freeman), JIT/JTMAE 22, no. 3, July–September 2006" is a copyrighted publication of ATMAE. This paper has been republished with the authorization of ATMAE, and may be accessed directly from the JTMAE website at

Sun Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2006