Are you an undergraduate or masters student at UW that wants to join the
Code and Cognition lab? Read on for details about our experimental lablets model.
Amy is on sabbatical. Please check the spreadsheet below to see if any of
her postdocs or PhD students are organizing lablets this quarter.
Lablets are an experimental model for engaging undergraduate and masters
students research. Because it's an experiment, don't expect perfect
processes or preparation or consistent offerings. Email or Slack Amy if you
Every year, dozens of students reach out to my lab to participate, but we
don't have the capacity to meaningfully mentor everyone who wants to join.
To offer more students the opportunity to learn about computing education
research while respecting our limited time, we occasionally will offer a lablet to engage University of Washington students in our lab's research community.
Here are the goals of lablets:
- Help students develop interest in computing education research and
teaching. If you join a lablet, we commit to helping you develop your interests.
- Offer clear protocols for participation and pathways for deeper
engagement. It should always be clear what participation means; no hidden curriculum.
- Ensure any barriers we create are beneficial. We'll have to create
some barriers to avoid overwhelming Amy and her doctoral students, but any
barriers do create should be helpful in some way.
What is a lablet?
A lablet is:
- A group of undergraduates and masters students who self-organize around
a common interest, that...
- Meets weekly to read, discuss, and apply research on a particular
topic, and that...
- Starts and ends on a quarterly basis, and that...
- Led by one or more students elected by majority by the members of the
lablet, and is...
- Supervised by either Amy, a postdoc, or a doctoral student.
Lablets run separately from the main lab meetings. Activities include weekly
meetings, reading groups, activism, tutorials, and discussion. It's up to
the leader and supervisor to ensure meaningful activities, maintaining a
weekly agenda. We provide meeting templates for many of the above activities to help you understand roles and expectations.
However, you're always welcome to deviate from them, or suggest improvements
to them, by writing Amy a DM in Slack.
What lablets are being offered?
Below are the past and future lablets. Note that we don't necessarily offer
one every quarter; it depends on our availability.
You can see when the lablets (and main lab meeting) are scheduled by
subscribing to our lab calendar (add firstname.lastname@example.org
if using UW G Suite, download this ICS file otherwise).
Can I join as a 1st year student with no research experience?
Yes, definitely. That's exactly why we started doing lablets — to give
students a front door to learning about research.
Why would I want to join a lablet?
There are many reasons!
- To learn about research. By reading and talking about
research, you'll learn the difference between research and practice.
- To find students with shared interests. Lablets bringing
together students with shared interests.
- To join the Code & Cognition lab. Lablets are a great way
to learn about opportunities in the lab; the active lablet leaders are
invited to join the main lab meetings and get advising from Amy and
other lab members.
- To prepare for doctoral studies and applied research careers.
Lablet members may:
To encourage focus and discourage overcommitment, you can only be part of one lablet at a time. But you can participate for as many quarters as you like
(assuming we're offering one every quarter.)
How much time does a lablet require?
Lablets are a minimum of 1 hour per week (a weekly 50 minute meeting).
However, to make the most of them, you'll want to have at least a few hours
a week to contribute to whatever activities a lablet decides to engage in.
It's okay if you're busier some weeks and more available others, or
unavailable sometimes. They are not intended to be intense high-commitment
activities, just a gentle introduction to computing education research.
Don't join one if you don't have the time to engage.
Because lablets are such a small time committment, it is generally not
possible to engage in main lab research projects, or even to start research
projects in the lablet. There simply isn't enough time. I recommend using
lablets as a way to learn about research, and then if you like it, pursuing
more intensive research experiences, especially in summer.
How do I join a lablet?
Follow these steps:
- Review the active lablets.
- Join the ComputingEd@UW Slack (follow this link and use your UW address to create an account on the Slack).
- Fill out your profile, including a headshot, so people can learn about
- Join the #codeandcognitionlab channel so you get all updates
about the lab. This is where we talk about lab and lablet activity.
- Write Amy a message in Slack, introduce yourself, explain your interest
in computing education research, and what lablet you're thinking of
joining. If she has any concerns, she'll let you know; all UW students
are eligible. If she doesn't, she'll give you access to the lablets
folder in Google Drive, which will give you edit access.
- Once you have access, add your name to the students sheet.
- Join the Slack channel corresponding to the lablet you joined. You'll
find the channel in the spreadsheet.
- If you signed up for a lablet in the middle of a quarter, write the
lablet leader and supervisor a joint message in Slack and introduce
yourself. They'll welcome you to the lablet and tell you what's next for
the lablet. If you signed up for the next quarter
When do lablets run?
We will try to have at least one lablet each Autumn, Winter, and Spring
quarters. This depends on the availability and interest of lablet
supervisors. We do not have plans to run lablets over summer; we reserve
that for a few full-time undergraduate researchers. Lablets are a good way
to prepare for summer research opportunities!
You can join a lablet at any time, even part way through a quarter. These
aren't classes, just informal gatherings.
Do lablet topics change?
Always! They shift based on the interests of the supervisor and of the
participants. In fact, we might even rename them in the middle of the
quarter if a topic goes beyond its title.
How do I create a lablet?
Follow these steps:
- First join a lablet. (There's always at least one.)
- First check the active lablets to ensure there isn't a suitable lablet to join already.
- If you see a need for a new lablet, read the responsibilities in the
question below to ensure you are willing to commit to the job.
- If you're willing, write Amy with your lablet proposal and she'll try
to find a supervisor for it.
- If the lablet is approved by Amy and she finds a supervisor, she will
introduce you to your supervisor, who will share an onboarding.
- Ask your supervisor to create a room in the Code and Cognition Ohyay and give you admin permissions to design it.
- Run your lablet, recruiting other students to join! You're welcome to
use #codeandcognition to recruit.
A good lablet should have a clear purpose. Why does it exist? Who does it
serve? Does it have a particular goal, such networking or learning?
Communicate all of these things at the beginning of a lablet, whenever new
students join, and whenever the goals change.
What does a lablet leader have to do?
Lablet leaders must:
- Host weekly meetings, facilitate lablet activities, and communicate
regularly with lablet members.
- Talk regularly with the lablet supervisor to brainstorm activities (DMs
in Slack are okay).
- Set a quarterly goal when forming the lablet.
- Post a weekly progress report about lablet activities in
#codeandcognition. This helps other lab and lablet members identify
opportunities to talk.
Lablet leaders may:
- Join the main lab meetings.
- Propose research projects to the lab.
What does a lablet supervisor do?
Lablet supervisors must:
- Be a postdoc, doctoral student, or UW faculty member engaged in
computing education research or practice.
- Facilitate selecting a lablet leader. Avoid co-leaders, as this results
in diffuse responsibility, but consider rotating leaders every few weeks
if multiple students are interested.
- Check in weekly with the lablet leader.
- Participate in lablet meetings, acting as an on-demand resource,
consultant, expert, and perhaps notetaker, allowing the lablet leader to
take the leadership role.
- Intervene in groups to offer advice, question assumptions, offer
- Offer guidance on research, research design, research methods, and
reading research papers.
- Meet with Amy before each quarter to set expectations.
Check in weekly on #lablets-supervisors with other supervisor on
lablets activities, offering suggestions for improvement.
About 3 weeks before each quarter, lablet leaders should:
- Ensure that there's an Ohyay meeting space for the lablet with a link
to the meeting minutes.
- Ensure that there's a channel in Slack for the lablet and that everyone
signed up for it is added to the channel.
- Ensure that there's a meeting minutes document for the lablet.
- Post a poll in the Slack to determine a meeting time for the next
quarter. (Avoid Mondays since those are often university holidays).
- Announce the meeting time no later than 1 week before the quarter.
- Add the meeting to the Code and Cognition lab calendar so that everyone
can discover the meeting time.
How do I leave a lablet or move to a new one?
If at any point you no longer want to be in your lablet, you may write your
leader to let them know. At the end of each quarter, Amy will post a lablet
refresh request to solicit updates to lablet membership. If you don't reply,
we'll mark you inactive and consider you withdrawn. If everyone leaves the
lablet, then the lablet is over.
How do you monitor lablet activity?
Supervisors will conduct a quarterly lablet health check, sending a report
to Amy each quarter. The report will comment on lablet engagement, clarity
of focus, and confidence in lablet leadership. Amy may use this information
to restructure lablets for the following quarter.
How am I expected to behave in a lablet?
All lablet members are subject to the following code of conduct:
- Respect people's name, pronouns, identity, health, wellbeing, agency,
worth, dignity, and safety.
- Respect for the above should come before lab activities and priorities;
learning and research cannot happen without the psychological safety
conferred by the above.
- All lab activities must be conducted with integrity: there shall be no
plagiarism of writing, no fabrication of data, no misrepresentation of
results, no sharing of ideas without proper attribution and credit.
- If anyone in a lablet notices violations of the code above, they can and
should report it to either the lablet leader, the lablet supervisor,
Amy, or anyone else in the lab they trust. No one should struggle
through conflicts in isolation; we want to help.
Can I get a letter of recommendation for participating?
Letters of recommendation are a common request for scholarships,
recognitions, and graduate school, and unfortunately they can be very hard
to acquire! And there's a reason for this: faculty like Amy are asked to
write hundreds a year, and if she said yes to all of them, she'd have no
time to do the rest of her job. Therefore, Amy has generally reserved
letters for students with whom she's had sustained, direct interactions with
over a significant period of time.
Do lablets count? Here's the policy we're going to try:
- If you participated in a lablet, but did not interact with Amy
in a sustained way over a significant period of time, she will write a
templated letter that explains what lablets are, confirms
that you participated in one, and include a personalized statement from your
lablet supervisor. This won't be a very helpful letter, since it will read
as a slightly personalized form letter, but it will at least indicate participation,
interest, and help you meet whatever unreasonable and oppressive requirements
some employer or school has set about letters.
- If you led a lablet, Amy will meet with you, discuss your experiences
and interests, and write a short letter. This will be more valuable than
the templated letter above.
If you're looking for a letter, lead.
Are there other ways I can participate in the lab other than lablets?
Yes, there are several!
- We recruit undergraduates for full-time paid summer research positions
each Winter through the DUB REU program. Participating in a lablet is a great way to be competitive for one of
- We will occasionally hire undergraduates and masters students for
focused work on a project such as development, maintenance, or data
analysis. We'll post announcements about that to the
#codeandcognitionlab channel and elsewhere.
- Other members of the lab may organize informal research activities or
recruit volunteers. You can always ask to see if there are
If any part of that policy isn't clear, let Amy know and she will clarify
To the extent possible under law,
Amy J. Ko
has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to the design
and implementation of
Amy's faculty site. This work is
published from the
United States. See this site's GitHub repository to view source and provide feedback.