Teaching Lab Policies

Students’ Rights & Responsibilities

Students and TAs have the right to be treated with respect and appreciation for any differences of ethnicity, race, gender, age, sexuality or national origin by everyone in the community.

Students and TAs have the right to expect an alcohol and drug free environment.

Students and TAs have the right to expect the PTL Office to maintain appropriate rules to promote effective learning, addressing concerns such as scheduling, cancellations, space, noise, conduct, rules of dress and cleanliness.

Students and TAs have the right to confidentiality in all aspects of their experience within the Physics Department.

TAs and students are expected to behave in the utmost professional manner. Crossing personal boundaries can be considered as harassment and abuse of the power relationship between TA and student.

TAs and students have the right to report any unwanted advances or behavior, and expect corrective action on the part of the PTL Office and the Physics Department.


Attendance is required at all labs without exception.  If you miss a lab, you will receive a zero for your in-class work.  If you miss a lab and do not contact your TA, you will receive a zero for any work that was due on that day (e.g., pre-lab or formal report).

If something disastrous keeps you from your scheduled lab, contact your lab instructor immediately. It is your responsibility to contact your TA in case of an emergency.  If you miss a lab, visit the FAQ page for instructions.

Students who may miss a lab due to religious observances must inform their instructor and their TA during the first three weeks of the semester.

Students who may miss a lab due to participation in a University-sanctioned activity must inform their teaching assistant and the teaching lab manager of all potential conflicts at the beginning of the semester.

Students who finish the semester with two or more unfinished labs will receive an “F” for the laboratory portion of the course.  Students may make up a single lab during their scheduled make-up day at the end of the semester.  A single unfinished laboratory will be graded as a zero.

A course instructor may decide that a student warrants an incomplete rather than a failure for the missed work.  A student who feels that his or her case warrants special attention may discuss this option with the course instructor.


The lab grade is at least 25% of your grade for the entire course.

A failing grade in the lab will result in a failing grade for the entire course. Please check with the instructor at the beginning of the course to make sure you know and understand the consequences of failing the lab.

The lecturer for the course will determine what constitutes a failing grade for the lab. Please check with him or her at the beginning of the course to make sure you know and understand the grading parameters for the lab.

Late Work

Any in-class work will be collected during lab. If you are not in class that day, you will receive a zero for that work. You should talk to your TA about this if you miss a lab session.

Lab reports are due a week after they are assigned, at the beginning of the lab session. Any work submitted late will not receive full marks. Your TA will explain to you his or her late policy on the first day of class.

Pre-lab policy:  Most of our courses include some pre-lab work.  Pre-labs are due 24 hours before the start of lab.  Failure to complete the pre-lab by this deadline will result in dismissal from the lab room.  You will receive a zero for the in-class work on that week.

Remember it is your responsibility to talk to the TA to make special arrangements. These can be made on an individual basis, and must be fully justified. There is no guarantee that your TA will concede to special arrangements.

Your Teaching Assistant

Your lab instructor is a teaching assistant for the Physics Department. Learn your TA’s contact information and the times they are available. Each TA will be available for one hour every week to help you with any lab questions you might have. Use them as the great resource that they are.

You are expected to treat your TA with the same respect that you would accord any instructor within the Physics Department.

Rules of Conduct

Disrespect for anyone or anything in the lab will not be tolerated. It is your responsibility to make this classroom a safe space for everyone in it, including yourself.

In all discussions and group work, full respect for all people is required. All disagreements about work must stand and fall on reasoned arguments about physics principles, the data, or acceptable procedures, never on the basis of power, loudness, or intimidation.

It is O.K. to make mistakes. It is, in fact, one of the best ways to learn. If you could perform every experiment with absolute perfection, and if you understood all concepts presented in this class, you would not be taking this class. The learning process involves making mistakes and learning from them. Everyone in the classroom had the right to be wrong and it is everyone’s responsibility to uphold that right.

Plagiarism and Cheating

It is perfectly reasonable and expected that you will share information and ideas with colleagues. The lab session is meant to be a collaborative effort, and students will come to the table with different ideas and approaches to resolving the problems. This exchange of ideas is encouraged. Since members of this class have highly diverse backgrounds, you are encouraged to help each other and learn from each other.

Plagiarism, however, will not be tolerated. Copying somebody else’s work, presenting data that is not your own, adding your name to a problem that you didn’t solve…. All of these examples are forms of academic misconduct. You can find a detailed description of academic fraud in the Student Conduct Code. Whether intentional or unintentional, plagiarism has profound consequences, including expulsion from the University. As a general rule, students can work as a group in class but lab reports and pre-lab work should be completed individually. If in doubt, ask your TA.

Equipment and Space

Hundreds of students use this laboratory each week. Another class probably enters the lab room directly after you are done. Please demonstrate respect for the environment and the equipment in the lab. The lab tables and floors should be clear of any paper or garbage. Please clean up your area before you leave the lab. The equipment needs to be left neatly at your station. If anything is not working properly, notify your TA immediately. If any equipment breaks due to mishandling or negligence on your part, you may be asked to refund the department for the cost of replacing that piece of equipment.

Computers in the Lab

The computers in the lab are part of the necessary equipment. The same rules regarding negligence or mishandling also apply to them. Additionally, any changing of settings or installation of programs is strictly prohibited. Use of email and web browsing is restricted to lab-related necessities.

Required materials

You are required to bring your lab manual, your textbook, a USB flash drive, a calculator, a ruler, a notebook and writing materials to lab each week.  You may be required to bring additional materials, including personal safety equipment.  Your TA will review the required materials for your course during the first week of labs.

Food and Drinks

No food or drinks will be allowed in the lab. You will be asked to dispose of your food and beverages on your way into class, or you can leave your items outside and retrieve them when the lab is over.

Cell Phones, IPods, Newspapers and Other Distractions

Please get rid of any distractions during your lab session. Turn your cell phone off. Leave the newspaper and the exciting novel in your backpack. You are expected to be focused on what you are doing. Your TA can and will come up with creative ways to deal with distraction, and it might involve taking away the disruptive material – yes, even cell phones.