transforming_physics_education

And how can i test this however it is very difficult

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Unformatted text preview: Experts have the ability to monitor and test their own thinking on an ongoing basis by asking questions like “Does this make sense?” and “How can I test this?” However, it is very difficult for students to learn this skill without some amount of social interaction and feedback. The student discussions in our classes are inspired by the peer instruction technique popularized by Mazur.8 The clickers and consensus groups just provide a way to enhance the process, particularly for the less active or less assertive students. A major value of clickers is how they can enhance communication in the classroom. The sometimes painful feedback provided to the instructor by histograms like figure 3 is the most obvious. However, there are other, more valuable November 2005 Physics Today 39 Figure 5. The circuit construction kit is a simulation that allows students to build virtual circuits containing a number of different elements. A pedagogically useful feature of the simulation is that it displays motion of the electrons, shown here in blue. Students who work with the interactive simulation are better able to understand and build real-life circuits. The simulation and many others are available at the Physics Education Technology website, ref. 14. forms of feedback. By circulating through the classroom and literally listening in on the consensus-group discussions, the instructor can quickly learn particular points of student understanding and confusion. Then in the follow-up lecture or whole-class discussion, the instructor can directly target those specific items of confusion. Perhaps even more important than the feedback to the instructor is the feedback provided to the students through the histograms and peer discussions. Students become much more invested in their own learning. One manifestation of this change is that we now receive many more substantive questions, and they are asked by a much broader distribution of students; 10–15 questions per class period is typical. Clickers can also be useful in other ways. For instance, we use them to quickly survey the range of student backgrounds and to quiz students at the start of class to check that they’ve done the assigned reading. Ensuring background reading considerably facilitates useful inclass discussions. The reality of virtual physics Interactive simulations that run through a regular Web browser can be highly effective. Using an existing simulation also often takes less preparation time than more traditional materials. Our research group has created and studied the effectiveness of about 45 simulations.14 We have explored their use in lectures, as part of homework problems, and as laboratory replacements or enhancements. Figure 5 shows our circuit construction kit simulation. This simulation allows one to build arbitrary circuits involving lifelike resistors, light bulbs, wires, batteries, and switches; measure voltages and currents with realistic meters; and see light bulbs lighting up. It 40 November 2005 Physics Today also shows what cannot normally be seen— e...
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