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Wilson, M. T., Seshadri, S., Streeter, L., & Scott, J. B. (n.d.). Teaching physics concepts without much mathematics: ensuring physics is available to students of all backgrounds. Australasian Journal of Engineering Education, 1–16. https://doi.org/10.1080/22054952.2020.1776027
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/13649
Recently, the University of Waikato introduced a first-year physics course requiring no specific physics or mathematics background, to support degrees in other subjects and allowing maximum diversity in student intake. This course uses the Investigative Science Learning Environment (ISLE) approach in which students develop their own experiments to tackle scientific questions. ISLE has proved successful with mathematically able classes; we have adapted it for a less capable cohort in a regional New Zealand context. We have assessed our approach for 2018 using: pre- and post-course concept tests; performance in exams; a student focus group; analysis of laboratory notebooks and marksheets; interviews with teaching staff; and student comments from the university’s course evaluations. Concept tests showed a mean normalised gain of 0.61. Students did well in the exam. Many students were initially unfamiliar with practical scientific investigation and record keeping but laboratory notebooks showed desired learning outcomes were achieved by the end. Students and staff engaged well with this course. Students’ final grades were not significantly different between genders and between under-represented minority and non-minority students. We cannot yet say whether this approach provides a sufficient platform for progress in engineering but students have learned fundamental practical physical concepts.
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This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis Group in Australasian Journal of Engineering Education on 17/06/2020, available online: http://www.tandfonline.com/10.1080/22054952.2020.1776027.