How do I cope with laboratory classes?

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Tufted Titmouse
Tufted Titmouse

Joined: 15 Oct 2017
Gender: Male
Posts: 25

18 Mar 2018, 6:17 am

My major involves significant laboratory time. Although I picked it out of pure interest for the theoretical part, I was always uncertain about how I would perform in practical classes.
Anyways, I have a problem with tremors/shaking due to performance anxiety but I already solved that problem by taking betablockers. I am very insecure about my motor skills, but I have been told that can be improved with time.
Another problem I am dealing with is the lack of clear instructions. We have a lab manual book but I find the instructions ambiguous or lacking clarity and proper directions (for instance, a sample of one the steps for an experiment simply says "set up the apparatus as shown in the picture"; and gives no further details on how to proceed). I guess things that should be obvious just aren't for me, maybe due to lack of laboratory experience? I am always wondering what's the correct way to do stuff.
I would compare this situation to a computer. I am like a computer. I can do stuff I am asked to do but I can't imply what is not explicit and I need very precise, detailed, complete instructions from start to finish.
I spent 3 hours watching videos about the experiment and still felt completely overwhelmed during the actual class and felt like the teacher had to babysit me all the time. I am pretty sure I was perceived as incompetent.
What can I do to improve? If I had money I would buy laboratory equipment and practice alone at home away from other people's judgment. Was this major a bad idea, should I try to switch?


User avatar

Joined: 8 May 2016
Age: 63
Gender: Female
Posts: 2,822
Location: Coventry

21 Mar 2018, 7:49 pm

Is it possible to get a tutor to show you how to setup/ operate the apparatus? It’s been a very long time since I’ve worked in a lab and I suspect much more complicated.