The first year physics diary project

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Research and Development in Higher Education: Learning for an Unknown Future Vol. 26

July, 2003, 692 pages
Published by
Helen Mathews and Rod McKay
ISBN
0 90 8557 55 8
Abstract 

The physics diary project follows the experiences of physics students in a range of courses throughout two semesters. Each week the students fill in an online survey about the learning experiences they have had in physics in the last week. In semester 1, 2002 the surveys focused on the laboratory course, and contained a mixture of open questions and scaled questions. In semester 2, 2002 the surveys asked about all aspects of the course, including lectures, labs, tutorials, projects and assignments and independent individual and group study. The results from semester 1 informed the design of questions for the semester 2 “diaries”. The aim of the diary project was to find out what aspects of the current courses are effective, and which are not, and to find ways of improving various activities and incorporating new learning activities into the courses where appropriate. The data gathered has already led to changes in the laboratory courses such as the introduction of group projects to enhance students’ problem- solving, team-work and organisational skills, while providing a stimulating learning experience. More changes to the laboratory courses and other aspects of the UNSW first year experience are underway in 2003.

Keywords: first year physics, laboratory classes, student diaries, student evaluation

The first year physics diary project

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Wilson, K. & Russell, C.