Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Re: Physics Laboratory Teaching

Some blog followers might be interested in a recent discussion-list post “Re: Physics Laboratory Teaching” [Hake (2012)]. The abstract reads:

ABSTRACT: Yongkang Le of the PERTG discussion-list wrote (paraphrasing): “Since 2003 I’ve supervised physics teaching labs at both the fundamental and advanced levels. . . . I am frequently confused as to why my efforts do not benefit most students.”

I suspect (please correct me if I'm wrong) that Le’s labs are of the traditional cook-book type in which students follow a recipe to set up equipment, make measurements, and (supposedly) “verify” some relationship, principle, or theory. My experience has been that such labs are of little value in promoting students understanding and appreciation of either scientific methodology or physics concepts.

Examples of non-traditional labs are “Socratic Dialogue Inducing Labs,” designed to promote students’ mental construction of concepts through:

(1) interactive engagement of students who are induced to think constructively about simple Newtonian experiments which produce conflict with their commonsense understandings;

(2) the Socratic method [e.g., Arons, 1997 http://bit.ly/jBcyBU; Hake, 1992 http://bit.ly/9tSTdB; Hake, 2012 http://bit.ly/x5ruYF] of the historical Socrates http://bit.ly/i4GWHz, not Plato’s alter ego in the Meno, utilized by experienced instructors who have a good understanding of the material and are aware of common student preconceptions and failings;

(3) considerable interaction between students and instructors and thus a degree of individualized instruction;

(4) extensive use of multiple representations (verbal, written, pictorial, diagrammatic, graphical, and mathematical) to model physical systems;

(5) real world situations and kinesthetic sensations (which promote student interest and intensify cognitive conflict when students’ direct sensory experience does not conform to their conceptions);

(6) cooperative group effort and peer discussions;

(7) repeated exposure to the coherent Newtonian explanation in many different contexts.

To access the complete 11 kB post please click on http://bit.ly/KMNeOB.

Richard Hake, Emeritus Professor of Physics, Indiana University
Links to Articles: http://bit.ly/a6M5y0
Links to SDI Labs: http://bit.ly/9nGd3M
Blog: http://bit.ly/9yGsXh
Twitter http://bit.ly/juvd52
GooglePlus: http://bit.ly/KwZ6mE

“The usefulness and effectiveness of the introductory laboratory have been bones of contention in physics teaching as far as one cares to go back in the literature. Laboratory instruction is costly, and, since, its effectiveness has been difficult to substantiate compellingly, some responsible administrators have viewed it as a luxury we cannot afford.”
- Arnold Arons (1993)

REFERENCES [All URL’s shortened by http://bit.ly/ and accessed on 05 June 2012.]
Arons, A.B. 1993. “Guiding Insight and Inquiry in the Introductory Physics Laboratory,” Phys. Teach. 31(5): 278-282; online to subscribers at http://bit.ly/mhzOQi.

Hake, R.R. 2012. “Re: Physics Laboratory Teaching,” online on the OPEN! AERA-L archives at http://bit.ly/KMNeOB. Post of 5 Jun 2012 15:18:18-0700 to AERA-L and Net-Gold. The abstract and link to the complete post are also being transmitted to several discussion lists.

No comments: