Helping students to make sense of formal physics through interactive lecture demonstrations
Educational research repeatedly shows that delivery mode instruction, such as "traditional" lectures, commonly does not help students to acquire sufficient functional understanding of physics: typically, students just achieve a 15-20% normalized gain on the Force and Motion Conceptual Evaluation (FMCE). Previously, we have successfully designed different "conceptual" labs in physics and in electrical engineering, where an average normalized gain of 61% on the FMCE has been achieved. Inspired by our previous success with conceptual labs – and with a starting point in the ideas on so called Interactive Lecture Demonstrations as developed by David Sokoloff, Ron Thornton and co-workers – our aim with this project has been to a) test how interactive lecture demonstrations best are to be enacted in a Swedish lecture setting, and b) investigate the results of such lectures in terms of student understanding. As in the conceptual labs, interactive lecture demonstrations utilize computer-assisted data acquisition and analysis of data from a "real" experiment in real-time. In the lecture setting, however, only one experimental set up is used, and the students have to engage with the task by following the lecture, making predictions and answering questions on a worksheet. In the project, we have designed and implemented the interactive lecture demonstration format with a starting point in previous experiences and research. We have also investigated the results of these lectures by means of quantitative and qualitative methods. The result of the quantitative tests shows a 37% normalized gain on the FMCE, indicating that the implementation of this approach is better than "traditional" lectures. However, the result is not as good as the results obtained from the conceptual labs, probably because the students here were not as engaged in the experiment as they had been in the lab setting. Still, one should take into consideration that interactive lecture demonstrations use fewer resources; for instance, only one set of equipment is needed. For this reason, we suggest that the use of interactive lecture demonstrations should be considered in cases where it is not possible to implement a full set of conceptual labs. It would also be interesting to explore the optimal combination of labs and lectures. In sum, the implementation of interactive lecture demonstrations show that it is possible to do reforms, and achieve active learning, in the framework of a lecture setting.
Final report from the Council for Renewal of Higher Education project 090/G03. Slutrapport för projekt 090/G03, Rådet för högre utbildning.
Stadig Degerman, Mari
Interactive lecture demonstrations
Fysikundervisning - högskolan