Experimental design laboratories in introductory physics courses: enhancing cognitive tasks and deep conceptual learning

Parreira, P. and Yao, E. (2018) Experimental design laboratories in introductory physics courses: enhancing cognitive tasks and deep conceptual learning. Physics Education, 53, 055012. (doi:10.1088/1361-6552/aacf23)

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Abstract

Being able to contextualise and solve complex problems is a highly valued skill in STEM graduates—a skill which we strive to nurture in our students. Since its introduction into undergraduate teaching, laboratory teaching has been used to consolidate students conceptual understanding, develop their practical skills and inculcate an evidence based problem solving approach. Much work has been done to achieve these goals with varying degrees of success. Here we present an alternative to the regular introductory level physics laboratory experiments which enhances students learning by focusing on problem solving rather than simply following detailed instructions. Working in small groups, students were able to achieve the aims of the experiment through self and peer-instruction. Similar experiments can be easily and cost effectively implemented in any standard secondary school and undergraduate teaching laboratory. These can be adjusted to target the development of a wide range of specific skill sets as well as deepen students understanding of different physics principles and concepts. Our approach will enable the teaching laboratory to truly fulfil the function with which it was originally conceived.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Yao, Dr Eric and Parreira, Dr Pedro
Authors: Parreira, P., and Yao, E.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Physics and Astronomy
Journal Name:Physics Education
Publisher:IOP Publishing
ISSN:0031-9120
ISSN (Online):1361-6552

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