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Closed laboratories are becoming an increasingly popular approach to teaching introductory computer science courses. Unlike open laboratories that tend to be an informal environment provided for students to practice their skills with attendance optional, closed laboratories are structured meeting times that support the lecture component of the course, and attendance is required. This paper reports on an integrated approach to designing, implementing, and assessing laboratories with an embedded instructional research design. The activities reported here are parts of a department-wide effort not only to improve student learning in computer science and computer engineering (CE) but also to improve the agility of the Computer Science and Engineering Department in adapting the curriculum to changing technologies, incorporate research, and validate the instructional strategies used. This paper presents the design and implementation of the laboratories and the results and analysis of student performance. Also described in this paper is cooperative learning in the laboratories and its impact on student learning.