Laboratory instructors at Bowdoin College are professional educators who are directly responsible for student learning. They work both independently and collaboratively with science faculty members to design innovative exercises for the laboratory that foster student understanding of scientific concepts, methodology, and principles. The College emphasizes the curricular importance of the laboratory experience by requiring all students who major in a scientific discipline to complete laboratory courses.
Laboratory instructors play a range of important roles in the academic program. In their departments and programs, laboratory instructors support faculty and student-led research, coordinate and provide logistical support for fieldwork, procure and prepare laboratory materials for student use, and prep labs for (and de-prep labs following) experiments. Many also maintain sophisticated laboratory equipment, some of which requires specialized training. Laboratory instructors work with faculty to ensure proper safety procedures are followed both in the laboratory and the field as well as in the use and storage of hazardous chemicals and materials.
Laboratory instructors are instructional staff who have the responsibility and authority to develop and assign student work as well as assess it. In the laboratory context, laboratory instructors are responsible for presenting abstract ideas and theories clearly, for encouraging students to think independently, for assigning academically rigorous coursework, for assessing student work fairly and consistently, and for returning that work in a timely manner. They engage students in the process of scientific writing and foster both scientific and quantitative reasoning and literacy. They are also responsible for being available to meet with students individually and in small groups to support learning. Given the character of their work with students in the laboratory setting, laboratory instructors have a unique opportunity to assist students in meeting the demands of collegiate-level academic work in the sciences. When requested by students, they also serve as informal advisors, writing letters of recommendation, providing curricular guidance, and meeting a variety of other student needs.