Good General Habits
- Pay attention and be critical of your work.
- If you identify a mistake, take the time to fix it and do it right. “If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?”
- Always double (or triple) check your work.
Reading & Research Tips
- Find an environment that is conducive to reading and studying (quiet, good lighting, good time of day, etc.)
- Take your time and expect to read through the text multiple times.
- Be an active reader – highlight main points, write down your questions, take notes.
- Make sure you know what the purpose of the experiment is (read the instructions!).
- Make sure to identify the independent and dependent variables in the experiment before starting anything. You will be changing the independent variable (the cause) and measuring the dependent variable (the effect).
- Keep your controlled variables constant during your experiment.
- If something is hard to measure or prone to inaccuracy, measure it in bulk then divide (i.e. measure 10 swings of the pendulum instead of one, then divide by 10).
- Build the entire raw data table before collecting any data. Raw data is the raw measurements you are taking – unfiltered and without any calculations.
- Make your tables neat and organized, including: specific titles, column headings, units, independent variable in the leftmost column, etc.
- Take enough data points over a wide enough range that you can identify a relationship between the variables (at least 5 data points).
- Always perform multiple trials for each data point. If the value of any trial is significantly different than the others, identify it as bad data and test again.
- When bad data is identified, cross it out. Do not erase it.
- Build and populate your formal data table before graphing. Formal data is the data you use to graph and analyze your results. It typically includes values that are calculated from your raw data.
- All calculated values are identified and the calculations are described thoroughly.
- Graph with the independent variable on the horizontal axis, and the dependent variable on the vertical axis.
- Highlight data points (+ signs, circles, etc).
- Make your graph neat and organized.
- Take advantage of the space you have to make your graph large and legible.
- Label your graph with a title that describes the experiment.
- Label your axes with quantity and units.
- Scale your graph properly: always start at (0,0), and make the grid of equal increments.
- Use a level of precision relevant to your experiment.
- If any of your data points may be hard to see, circle them.
- If you find any data points that look off, retest the data.
- After you have plotted all of your points, draw the line of best fit (do not “connect the dots”).
- Add the equation of the line of best fit, and identify the points you used with an “+” on your graph.
- Set an expectation for being productive. It pays to stay on topic and not get distracted.
- Discussions are more valuable with full participation.
- Remember – a quiet, uninvolved, or distracting group member might just need some help. Reach out to them.
- Have at least one group member take notes on the conversation (otherwise – you’ll forget everything).
- Make sure to listen when others are speaking.
- Make sure everyone has an opportunity to contribute.
- Repeat (or parrot) ideas and concepts to make sure you understand.
- Be honest about your understanding make sure others understand.
- Try to make connections to the reading and to the outside world.
- Don’t be judgemental or biased.
- Speak clearly and slowly.
- Remember the benefits of discussion:
- It’s easier to verbalize ideas than to write them.
- You get multiple perspectives on a topic.
- You can understand more in less time (when compared to doing something alone).
- You can get validation of your ideas.
- Full group involvement (all informed).
- Speaking content and order should be decided and rehearsed before presenting.
- Read your script/content multiple times before your presentation.
- Prepared and ready on the screen before you start.
- Ensure that your medium(whiteboard, computer, projector) is BIG and CLEAR.
- Pay attention to contrast, text size, and visibility.
- Use the appropriate volume for the situation!
- Stand still, stand straight, face the audience (w/ eye contact).
- Inflection of voice – be interesting (not monotone).
- Be respectful (quiet!)
- Face the presenter – body language should suggest that you are engaged.
- Ask clarifying questions.