In my years as a chemistry teacher, I did a water of hydration lab like the one described in Chad’s post about his hydrate lab experience. To assist in grading the lab results for this and other quantitative labs that we did, I created Excel spreadsheets where the students’ results could be entered. The spreadsheet then did all the required calculations and compared the students’ results to the theoretical value. This made grading the lab reports much quicker and more accurate, flagged incorrect student calculations, allowed a much more complete discussion of the lab results and permitted “what if” questions to be discussed.
In my class, the students did not see the spreadsheet results until after their lab reports were turned in. Once the reports were turned in, all students received a print-out of the class results. In the case of the water of hydration lab, the spreadsheet also calculated class average values and we discussed how results are more reliable when based on repeated determinations of experimental results rather than on just one. Because the classes were quite large, there was not time for the students to enter their own data into the spreadsheet, so they wrote the data on a form I prepared and I typed the data in myself. A sample spreadsheet for the experiment is attached. The names of the students have been blanked out. The spreadsheet template, of course, can be used year after year by blanking out the data.
If you are interested in additional experiment spreadsheets that I used, comment below.