PLAB 194 - General Physics Lab

Instructor: Dr. Rhett Allain
Office hours: M,T,W,Th: 8:00 - 9:00, T: 3:00 - 4:00
Office: 115 Pursley Hall
Phone: 549 - 2894
Course page:

Course Description
There are two main goals of this course. The first is to complement the general physics lecture course. Concepts discussed in the lecture will be further investigated in the lab. The second goal of the laboratory is to gain familiarity with the scientific methods used in modern research. This second goal includes: experimental design, error analysis, and modeling.

Course Objectives
By the end of this course, you should be able to do the following. Use the concepts developed in the lecture course to explain physical phenomena. Construct a hypothesis and develop a means to test it. Carry out measurements, create graphs, interpret graphs, and communicate your findings with a lab report. You should also be able to effectively function as a member of a group.


Your grade in this course will be determined from both your lab reports and two exams. The weighting for these will be lab reports - 70% and exams - 30%. The two tests will be held in the middle of the semester and at the end. They will both be comprehensive. Objectives for the tests will be posted. The following grade distribution will be used to determine your letter grade. The lab grade includes all assignments on WebAssign. This includes lab reports, peer ranking exercises and other homework.

Letter Grade
Percentage Range
90 - 100

80 - 89


70 - 79

60 - 69
0 - 59

Lab Reports

You will be responsible for writing a lab report for each lab that you do. All lab reports will be turned using WebAssign - an online homework delivery system. More information on WebAssign can be found on the WebAssign info page. The format and guidelines for these reports are contained in a separate document that will be handed out.

Group Work
Scientist usually work in groups, and so shall you in this course. You will need to work in groups of 3 or 4 in the lab, preferably 3. Although you are working with others, you are responsible for understanding all that happens during the lab (don't just sit there and let others do the lab). You will be individually evaluated by your lab report and by the two exams. You may consult others in writing your lab report, but DO NOT simply copy someone else's section (this is very easy to spot). It is ok to have the same data and even graphs - as these were collected in the group, but the analysis should be your own.

Peer Evaluation

Another aspect of the lab report process will be your evaluation of other students' work. An assignment on WebAssign will be set up so that you will anonymously rank other portions of other students' labs. You will recieve a score based on how well your ranking correlates with the instructor's rankings.

Since there are no make-up labs, you should not miss a lab. Any lab that you miss, you will receive a zero for that lab. At the end of the semester, I will drop your lowest lab grade. If you miss an exam, make-up tests will only be given for valid, documented excuses.Note: The last day to withdraw from this course without a grade is Wednesday, July 10

* Free discussion, inquiry, and expression is encouraged in this class. Classroom behavior that interferes with either (a) the instructor's ability to conduct class or (b) the ability of students to benefit from the instruction is not acceptable. Examples may include routinely entering class late or departing class early; use of beepers, cellular telephones, or other electronic devices; arguing in a way that is perceived as "crossing the civility line." In the event of a situation where a student legitimately needs to carry a beeper/cellular telephone to class, prior notice and approval of the instructor is required.

* If you are a qualified student with a disability seeking accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act, you are required to self-identify with the Office of Student Life, Room 202, Student Union.