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Discussion and Conclusion Sections

Activity Description/Rationale                                                          

This set of lessons discusses writing the discussion and conclusion sections. Here they have been broken into two lessons, one for each section.

NYS/CCL Standards (Content Knowledge, IAD)




Goals: Process Skills (Basic & Integrated) and Attitudes/ (Enduring Understandings & Essential Questions)

Students will learn how to differentiate the knowledge they are conveying into different areas, and understand why the discussion and conclusion sections are separated.

Universal Design for Learning/Differentiation

Both lessons are structured similarly to encourage students to participate through active discussion of the sections. In addition, worksheets are provided which may be completed separately, or in groups with students providing each other with constructive criticism.


Discussion PowerPoint

Conclusion PowerPoint

Worksheet (2 pages, one for discussion, one for conclusion)

Conclusion Peer Review Sheet

Editing Worksheet

Estimated Length of Activity:

3 class periods (2 hrs 15 minutes – 2 hrs 30 minutes)


Prior work in the lab report assignment, especially completion of experiments and generation of hypothesis.

Activity Instructions:

Discussion Lesson:

(5-10 minutes) For the do now have students determine what the discussion section is about.

(10-20 minutes) Next, you’ll go over the powerpoint, and make sure that you touch on the following points (as highlighted in the worksheet):

  • Don’t repeat results
  • Conclusion should be consistent with study objectives/research question. Explain how the results answer the question under study
  • Limit speculation
  • Answer whether the results make sense in terms of
    • Your expectation as expressed in the hypothesis?
    • What you read before beginning (texts & research articles)?
  • You could calculate percent error and see how accurate your data was compared to an ideal penny for your years.

Things to AVOID in your discussion section

  • Overinterpretation of results (stick to the data!)
  • Unwarranted speculation
    • (e.g., if you studied college students, your results apply to that population…)
    • If you do speculate, be sure to label it as such (“We speculate that..”)
  • Inflating the importance of your findings
  • Tangential issues (focus on your hypothesis and study results)
  • Conclusions that are not supported by the data

I’ve included in the powerpoint percent error calculations, which you may or may not want to include in the lab report. If you do include them, make sure to emphasize what they represent, and have students interpret them, not just calculate and include them.

(15-20 minutes) Have students complete the worksheet on the discussion. This should help them prepare to write the section up and hand it in promptly.

Conclusion Lesson:

(5-10 minutes) Have the students perform the do now, and discuss how a science conclusion may be different than other conclusions they’ve learned how to write (since conclusions are fairly constant components of writing assignments).

(10-20 minutes) Next you’ll go over the powerpoint, making sure to dicuss these points (as highlighted on the worksheet)

In your conclusion, neatly sum up what you learned from the experiment.

  • Did the hypothesis teach you anything?
  • Were the results what you expected? Why or why not?

You’ll want to repeat bits and pieces that you already said, but in a new way. Don’t just copy and paste sentences from different sections.

You also want to expand a little and think about:

  • Discuss any potential errors you may have made that lead to an unexpected result.
    • Possibly refer to your percent error calculation, if you performed one.
  • Suggestions for future research (“If I had to do it over I would…”). Be specific.

(10-15 minutes) For the end of class have students complete worksheet and make sure to go around and help students that are unclear on assignment. Encourage students to complete the worksheet, because they need a rough draft of the conclusion for the following day’s assignment.

Peer editing/editing workshop lesson

This lesson is planned as a work day to provide you with the opportunity to work more closely with students that are falling behind in their assignments. The goal is to encourage work and answer questions for students who don’t want to discuss their work in front of other students. The two activities to keep them occupied are peer editing of the conclusion. They should have written up their conclusion after the lesson, and brought in drafts for their peers and yourself. Have students work on the peer editing and provide each other with constructive comments. For students that haven’t brought in drafts have them work on the editing worksheet, which provides opportunities for passive voice rewriting, and shows them examples of poor writing samples to avoid and how to correct them. If there is time at the end of class, go over the editing worksheet with everyone, even if students only worked on peer editing.


Assignments will be to write and submit the discussion and conclusion sections. Peer editing and correction of conclusion section based on peer editing is also an assignment.

Assessment and Reflection

Assessment is based on the classroom discussion and timely completion of assignments. The editing workshop day should provide ample assessment opportunity as well for students who have not been completing assignments.

Instructor’s Notes:

The editing workshop day is provided to assist teachers who have reticent students, or students who dislike handing in assignments. In addition, if students have been handing in less and less work remind them that each of these segment assignments are part of their total grade.