Universitat Jaume I (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2017 Proceedings
Publication year: 2017
Pages: 4017-4021
ISBN: 978-84-617-8491-2
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2017.0976
Conference name: 11th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 6-8 March, 2017
Location: Valencia, Spain
Lab activities in college science courses often follow a traditional instruction style, with a rather guided activity pattern, far from any open-ended project methodology. Students enter the lab with a strictly determined road map and there is a risk that they act as mere data capturers. However, strategies leading to more active learning are advisable to increase student autonomy and to improve their comprehension of the concepts, phenomena and procedures involved in the lab experiments.

Thus, we have introduced several methodological innovations in our lab sessions. First, we have headed towards a certain blended learning approach, by means of tutorial videos and a webpage in our Moodle learning platform which have replaced our customary lab manual. Moreover, the lab report has been substituted by different series of questions, activities and other tasks to be submitted through the Moodle platform. Inspired by the flipped-classroom model, the core of the sessions consists now of very interactive tasks, according to a learner-centered philosophy.

Indeed, we report here the hands-on activities implemented in the lab session on magnetism. Students have built several magnetic devices, such as an electromagnet, a speaker, and an electric transformer. Afterwards, they have checked how the devices work in different conditions, and which parameters were fundamental to describe their behavior. Finally, students have proposed both improvements on the built elements and designs for new devices, which they have been able to put into action.

This approach, closer to real scientific or technological situations, has increased students engagement, while they worked with minimal teacher intervention. Not only students have expressed a high degree of satisfaction with the new experiments but, when comparing with the learning outcomes of traditional lab sessions, we have observed that a deeper understanding of the Physics involved has been achieved with these methodologies.