Challenges in implementing cross-disciplinary design experiments in a large scale introductory physics class; a case study
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Engineering and Management Program.
System Design and Management Program.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Mechanical Engineering.
David Robert Wallace.
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A set of new design-based physics experiments were jointly developed by the Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) and Physics departments and implemented in a large-scale, introductory physics course, 8.02 Electricity and Magnetism, at MIT. These were developed in response to student feedback indicating that overly structured experiments limit their grasp of the abstract concepts of electricity and magnetism. Consequently, each of the four in-class experiments has an open-ended, design component, exploring a practical application of the concepts. In addition, these experiments were built upon an "active learning" structure, whereby students interact with each other and with online materials during class. They were integrated into a class of >700 students, with 8 sections total (~90 per section), with pre- and post-experiment assignments to support and reinforce the material covered. After each experiment, the students were surveyed to determine their self-assessment to gauge their understanding of the purpose of the experiment and assess whether sufficient time was allocated to the experiment. At the end of the term, the students were also surveyed to compare their experience with both the traditionally highly structured experiments and the design experiments conducted during the same semester. Results revealed that though the design experiments were more enjoyable for the students, they perceived the traditional experiments as more relevant to the lecture material. Possible reasons why the students saw less connection to the lecture material might be attributed to the novelty of these experiments and some structural problems in deploying them on such a large scale. While problems associated with the adoption of new pedagogical approaches are not surprising, it is important to carefully assess the outcomes and reflect on how to address the shortcomings for the next iteration.
Thesis: S.M. in Engineering and Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, System Design and Management Program, 2019Thesis: S.M., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Mechanical Engineering, 2019Cataloged from PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (page 69).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Engineering and Management Program; System Design and Management Program; Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Mechanical Engineering
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Engineering and Management Program., System Design and Management Program., Mechanical Engineering.