Outline:Project Members and Abstract
Changes and Improvements
Method for Evaluation of the Project
Results and Feedback
Theoretical Perspectives and Discussions
Changes and ImprovementsThe followings are the improvements based upon the problems mentioned in the previous section:
- We simplify the procedure because of two main reasons: One is to make students learn one significant concept per lab, such as energy conservation, Newton's laws, Ohm's law, electromagnetic induction, etc. Thus, the explanation of the theory now becomes concise and contextualized in terms of what students do the lab and how students understand it. The other simplification is to make experimental setup straightforward. The number of sensors in one lab should be only one or two sensors so students can overlook the concept of measurement. Otherwise, we provide full explanation of the setup even with detailed pictures. We also expect to have less technical troubles in equipment due to these changes.
- Most of the procedures are illustrated by pictures and diagrams, so students can visualize why and how they have to conduct it in that way. Especially for wiring circuits, it is not easy for TAs to teach on the blackboard. (TAs used to go around each table and set to the circuit for students.)
- Detailed mathematical derivations are also included in the theory or each section of the activity.
- Some of procedures that most students tend to make mistakes are indicated with warning or hints. These ideas have been collected for several years, and during summer 2011, it was extensively discussed with TAs. Not only warning for mistakes, but tips for obtaining better results are included.
- Quite a few messages (questions) are embedded to allow students to think of physics concepts and reason why they conduct this procedure so it can be more educational. For this purpose, we try to remove instructions which promote students to do plug-in physics or rote learning. On the other hand, open-ended discussions are included in some of the labs. The lab procedure is quite concrete; however, the basic design still lets students have freedom to explore their understanding.
- We also arrange the questions on the lab textbook to stimulate students to consider the specific applications, interpretations, and justification of their experimental results besides open-ended questions. This possibly makes students understand the main ideas of the typical textbook chapters and the lab activity. The questions also intend to point out misconceptions that most students may hold.
- The textbook is posted on website, so it can be revised any time when we encounter problems with students' understanding. Also, unclear statements of procedures reported by TAs can be readily corrected.
- Some of ideas toward the lab manual are based on TAs' observations. The manual must be understandable not only for students, but for TAs' instructional point of views. We expect the following: Including TAs' opinions and observations into the manual encourages them to teach students well.
- In the very first lab, we provide an instruction of how to use the software to acquire the experimental results. In addition, for some special procedures, picture instructions are illustrated for each lab.
- Some of the important lab preparations are introduced, such as error analyses and electronics primer. The error analysis lab itself is not new, but the content becomes more hands on and associated with actual situations of measurement. Electronics primer instructs how to use a multimeter and how to implement circuits on a breadboard for the future lab activities.
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