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MOTIVATION OF AUTONOMY IN STUDENT WORK: STRATEGIES FOR USE IN THE SUBJECT “DEGRADATION OF POLYMERS”

R. Bouza, B. Montero, M. Rico, A. Ares

Grupo de Polímeros, Departamento de Física, Universidade da Coruña (SPAIN)
The subject "Degradation of Polymers" will be proposed in the Official Postgraduate Program of Applied Physics which is part of Galician University System. This subject is deemed essential to the formation of professionals in the field of plastics industry and is designed taking into account the necessities of general education and vocational skills. The aim of this work is to learn through independent work of the student by means of the case studies and implementation of supervised work in a laboratory, in order to follow the guidelines of the European Higher Education Area [1].

This subject concerns the degradation of polymeric materials caused by environmental factors. The main contents of the matter are structured into three thematic areas [2]:
1. Degradation attributed to physical factors: Degradation due to mechanical use of plastics, physical interaction with surroundings and migration of additives.
2. Degradation attributed to chemical factors: Degradation due to chemical reaction with light, chemical reaction with heat, oxygen, water, metals.
3. Degradation attributed to biological factors: Degradation due to fungal and bacterial.
The theoretical concepts learned by students in the lecture sessions will be implemented in a laboratory through the development of experimental activities.

The experimental activities to be undertaken by students will be organized as follows:
The first day, the teacher will present the activity, distribute the working groups and assign the corresponding tasks. Then, the students have one week to select the material for analysis and to perform the literature search. After that time, each working group will have a tutorial with the teacher to review and monitor the work. Next, students will develop the measures in the laboratory for two weeks; and finally they will deliver and present orally the work done.
During the development of the activities, the skills acquired and demonstrated by the student will be evaluated.

[1] Aramburu-Zabala Higuera L., Enseñar competencias: el perfil de los licenciados en ciencias del trabajo. Revista de la Red Estatal de Docencia Universitaria, Vol. 3 Nº 1. 2008.
[2] Yvonne Shashoua in Conservation of Plastics. Materials Science, degradation and preservation. Elsevier: Amsterdam 2009, Chapter 6.