WIKI SPACE (WIKIS) AND ASSISTED GROUP PROBLEM SOLVING IN PHYSICS CLASSES
We have reported a number of uses of WikiS (Wiki Space) in physics classrooms before (1, 2). WikiS is an interactive web page that can be accessed collaboratively by a group of users. For the first time, we used it as a teaching tool to develop independent-thinking abilities in students who enrolled in upper level physics classes (1). Then it was combined with Just-in-time-Teaching (JiTT) and presented as an experiment to calculus based physics classes, primarily, to develop critical thinking ability, spontaneity while helping them to think independently (2). To get the involvement of every student who enrolled in the class, recently we created WikiS based assisted group problem-solving sessions. Unlike before, at this stage all students were required to get membership in the WikiS. As the first step they were invited to sign up with the page. Then they were placed in small groups and instructed to create their own pages. At the beginning of the week, five or more essay type problems were posted on the WikiS and each group was assigned one problem to work on. By Thursday of the week, each group was required to explore the steps to solve the problems and post them on the pages they have created. Numerical answers were not encouraged at any point in these exercises. Students were expected to think critically and explain their approach to solve the problems in steps. As the page administrator, I gave access to all students to visit each other’s pages and learn how others tackled similar problems. After the completion of this exercise the students were given an in-class group-quiz every Friday and the problems were designed in such a way that the required skills to solve them were similar to the posted problems on Wikis. During the Quiz exercise, the students were reassigned into groups and I assisted the groups and students who required extra help in a limited manner because, rather than the professor, peer interaction (and assistance) was the focus of the exercise. At the end, one student from each group presented their work to the class using iPads or laptops. Speakers were rotated each week to provide equal opportunity to everyone.
1. H. Mohottala The Physics Teacher -- September 2011 – Vol. 49, Issue 6
2. H. Mohottala, The Physics Teacher – The combination of Wikis and JiTT in Physics classroom - 2012 – accepted for publication.