Bridging Lecture and Lab

Developed by John Zayac


Science courses are typically split between lecture and laboratory instruction. Lecture is used to provide students with foundational, structured knowledge, andlabs allow students to make direct observations and develop specific scientific skills within the discipline. The division between these two experiences is often heightened when the lecture and lab components of the same course have different instructors. In reality, this is an artificial curricular distinction, as in practice most scientific research involves both theoretical and practical components. This workshop will focus on identifying learning objectives that cross the lecture/lab divide, developing assignments that foster students’ understanding, and considering ways to maximize student success across lecture and lab

Learning Goals

    • Identify the similarities and differences of lectures and labs from the instructor and student perspective.
    • Reconsider lecture and lab assignments/evaluations to strengthen connections.
    • DIscuss the “Gap Problem” 



This workshop is designed to get laboratory instructors to reflect upon their experiences as students to address ways in which laboratory instruction can facilitate student learning.

Bridging Lecture and Lab

Bridging Lecture and Lab Slides

Prior to the workshop, registrants should read the following document:

Nowaczyk, S., Isvoranu, C., Zorita, S., Barri, T., and Trif, F. Mind the Gap! Bridging the Gap between Theory and Practice in Laboratory Assignments: , p. 8.



After reflection on their experiences and on identifying “gaps” in science instruction, participants are encouraged to develop a bridging prelab activity or assignment that is designed to bridge the gap between lecture and lab for students. The prelab can be thought of as any activity that students engage in prior to starting hands-on laboratory activities. These can include: homework, writing portions of a lab report, short lectures, etc.

Prompt: Consider where a specific gap in student’s knowledge or skills may exist between the lecture and lab portion of your course. Develop a student-centered prelab activity that will help mitigate this gap.

Please start/join a conversation or post any questions or comments on this workshop’s slack channel: #labworkshop.



Participants will have reflected upon:

    • The similarities/differences between lecture/lab instructional modalities.
    • Developed some mitigating strategies for the CUNY calendar.
    • The “Gap Problem” in laboratory instruction.

Participants will develop a bridging prelab assignment to address the “Gap Problem” and to prepare students to better obtain the learning goals of laboratory assignments.