Outline:Project Members and Abstract
Changes and Improvements
Method for Evaluation of the Project
Results and Feedback
Theoretical Perspectives and Discussions
Results and FeedbackFor the new textbook:
Most of the students told that the instruction and the procedure were clear and easy to follow. The TAs did not have to spend time helping students how to set up and take the data during labs. Troubles with the equipment were significantly reduced. Most of students were eager to obtain expected results more accurately and almost all groups were able to obtain less than 5 % error (for some experiment, up to 10%). Therefore, students understood the activity and they were also able to write the post-lab report well. The final grades of students were also improved by 20 to 30 % compared with previous summer sessions. Each student was involved more to conduct the experiments as a group work. Confusion with data-acquisition software was mostly removed. Most of the students became capable of analyzing the data and converting units. Quite a few students obtained confidence when they tried post-lab quizzes. Troubles with algebra were also minimized. The lab activities even helped students understand the lecture part.
For quizzes and general lab curriculum:
More than 90% of the students felt uncomfortable with pre-lab quizzes; however, they felt confident in solving post-lab quizzes although the scores they obtained in the pre-lab quiz were higher than those of post-lab quizzes. From our observation and informal interview with some of students, the possible reasons are following: Students need time to digest what they learned. The pre-lab quizzes are supposed to be effective so students are obligated to read the textbook for what they will do in the lab. However, the fact from the observation was different from what most people expected. It is almost impossible, especially for these students, that they understand the lab before they do only by reading. Thus, the quiz problems tend to be too simple and only require them to memorize the terms and formulas. Obviously, students are able to obtain fair scores to maintain their grades from such quizzes; however, we have noticed that pre-lab quizzes did not facilitate students' understanding effectively even from our previous experiences. During summer 2011, we decided to give students pre-lab quizzes after TA's lecture. What happened was that TAs tended to explain quiz problems and students tended to memorize what TAs said. (We cannot simply blame TAs. Obviously, without TA's emphasis, most of the students would not obtain proper scores.) Thus, the pattern of answers was very similar among students. This has facilitated the rote learning.
On the other hand, the answers in the post-lab quizzes appeared significantly different. Most of the students wrote the answers by their own words. This could tell us that their process of learning seemed established during the lab.
Because of this particular observation, after the summer, we decided to give students only post-lab quizzes. The problems have been drastically revised based on TAs' feedback and what students did in the lab.
People's direct voice:
Negative feedback from students in summer session (2011) and its modifications
- No theory and objective are written on the manual, so it is hard to understand the concepts
behind experiment and meaning of the results.
Before summer session, we decided that TAs would have freedom to explain the theories. However, most of the students complained as above, so the introductory theories and objectives of each lab have been added immediately. The modified manuals are already used from fall 2011. From TAs' feedback, there has been no complaint on the theory of the manual.
- There seem to be a few problems with labs and lecture classes not being exactly on schedule, so some
quizzes have information that the students haven't covered yet.
The schedules of lab and lecture were almost synchronized in summer, but practically it is impossible to be exactly matched every time. However, after we decide not to give pre-lab quizzes, this sort of complaint has not been reported.
- The equipment has had no problem. The new lab manuals are instructive enough but still leave room for us to discover things on our own.
- Experimental results are good. The percent errors/differences are usually under 5%.
- Labs are helpful in our lecture classes. We frequently use lab manual / notes to help in lecture class.
- The procedure with pictures makes it much more understandable.
- Students are able to wire circuits by themselves because of the picture instruction. Also, due to Electronics Primer lab, students are capable of implementing a circuit on a breadboard.
- The entire procedure makes students work together, such as holding a cart, clicking a button, calculating the result, etc.
- For some labs, students did not need any help from the TA. Some students even refused TA's offer to help. Some of them wanted to try the experiment by themselves only with the manual instruction.
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