HEG Community Meeting 12 June 2018 Programme



Nicolas Labrosse (Glasgow)
Active or passive or both? Looking inside the ‘black box’ of lectures

Anna Wood, Ross Galloway, Judy Hardy (Edinburgh)

The quality of teaching is under scrutiny as never before, yet lectures remain somewhat of a ‘black box’. With increasing evidence for active engagement pedagogies knowing what activities actually take place in lectures is particularly important. In this talk I will present the Framework for Interactive Learning in Lectures (FILL) - a simple method for characterising how time is spent on three activity types: non-interactive (e.g. lecturer talking), interactive (e.g. peer discussion) and vicarious interactive (e.g. questions to and from the lecturer). I will present results from an analysis of two introductory physics classes at the University of Edinburgh. Following the talk there will be an opportunity to discuss the evidence for interactive engagement in lectures, the ways in which it benefits student learning and how to do a FILL analysis in your own classes.
Mature student Access to Physics and Engineering degrees

Alexander MacKinnon (Glasgow)

Mature students form a distinctive minority in the undergraduate population. They can bring great strengths to study, particularly of motivation and organisation, but often have to contend with complications in their external lives. Many Scottish universities offer in-house Access programmes, courses aiming to provide an introduction to university study for adults who have been away from education for some time. We will describe some of the features of these programmes. We look particularly at University of Glasgow's Access programme which is unusual in offering a route into science study, including Engineering and the Physical Sciences. Questions will enable further discussion of mature students studying Physics: particular issues, benefits to the rest of the students, outcomes, careers.
Student reaction to a modified concept inventory

Sally Jordan (presenting), Mark Parker, Holly Hedgeland and Nick Braithwaite (Open University)

Concept inventories such as the Force Concept Inventory are much used and highly respected in physics teaching. However, concerns have been expressed regarding a number of points, including their reliance on multiple-choice questions and demographic differences in measured attainment. In response to this, a version of the ForceConcept Inventory has been developed in which students give some of their answers as short free-text phrases. These responses are automatically marked. As one aspect of the project, students have been observed completing the modified FCI in a usability laboratory. This presentation will describe and discuss the findings, including student reaction to both the conventional FCI and the modified questions. There have been some surprises. The discussion will consider the purpose of concept inventories. We will discuss, via the lens of the student view, whether concept inventories do what they claim and what might be done to improve the situation.
Online team investigations in astronomy and planetary sciences at The Open University

Mark H. Jones for the OTIS project team (Open University)

In this talk I will describe the early phase of a study (called OTIS) into cooperative team projects for students at advanced undergraduate and taught postgraduate levels in astronomy and planetary science at the Open University. These projects, which are conducted entirely online, are based on rather open-ended scientific investigations using data from: research archives, a robotic telescope, or a Mars rover mission simulation. Our experience of teaching on these modules suggests that they are successful in the sense that student teams are able to fulfil the goals of the respective projects and meeting learning outcomes. We have also observed that students seem to be highly engaged with their task and their team when working on these projects. Prompted by these observations, we are now starting to investigate the factors that may be important in such online cooperative team activities. These factors include; pedagogic design, facilitation of team working, modes of online communication and assessment. This talk will concentrate on describing the student team projects and will outline the study that we are in the process of conducting. I would expect the discussion to focus on the use and evaluation of group projects in teaching physics and astronomy in HE, but I could also expect some wider discussion, such as the role of online team working in the context of employability.
The SOPHia Project: Science Outreach for Promoting Physics to Female School Students

Gráinne Walshe, Vincent Casey, Ian Clancy, David Corcoran, Deirdre Ní Eidhin, Elora McFall and Maria Quinn (Limerick)

The SOPHia project aims to encourage female students to take up physics as a subject for the Irish Leaving Certificate (higher second-level). There is a three to one ratio of male to female students taking physics at Leaving Certificate level . This has a knock-on effect on the low numbers of females taking physics at third-level, and ultimately in senior roles in academia and industry. Therefore, the Department of Physics, in collaboration with the Science Learning Centre at the University of Limerick, launched a pilot intervention in Spring 2018. Undergraduate students of physics visited three secondary schools to deliver a workshop to female lower-second level students. The workshop was informed by recommendations from a number of previous studies. Women’s interest and persistence in physics hinges on their sense of belonging and recommendations to support belonging include endorsing effort and hard work over brilliance, and combatting the stereotypes of who does physics. Students’ awareness should be raised about gender stereotypes, and of the broad contribution physics makes to their lives. The workshop consisted of demonstrations, information about physics, and famous physicists, and the diversity of careers that can be pursued with a physics qualification. The undergraduate facilitators also told their own story of how they came to study physics. This was central, as role models should be close in age, experience and background to the female school students. Student feedback indicated that the school visits had a positive impact on their perceptions and intentions regarding physics. This presentation will discuss the design, the findings from and the proposed expansion of this pilot intervention.
Spaced Repetition – what use in Physics?

Alison Voice, University of Leeds

Whilst most people acknowledge that ‘practice makes perfect’ how much do we employ this idea in higher education physics? Probably we all set coursework and give examples classes, which are excellent. But taking it a step further, do we use ‘massed’ practice (all at once after teaching each topic) or ‘spaced’ practice (cumulative and repeated practice of all topics)? This talk will provide a summary of relevant literature and reveal the results from a recent survey of student study habits. It will also ‘ask the audience’ to provide a snap shot of what we all do, to elucidate good practice, and challenge us to think about how we best help our students.

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