H. Mohottala

University of Hartford (UNITED STATES)
Modern student is born with high technology and no longer sees it as a “new” tool. But the professors who are born way before them, who have seen the low-tech, and understand the core of the subject, find it as a “new” convenient tool to teach. As the entire world is after the modern teaching tools, students easily get deviated from the practical aspect of the subjects, like physics. We developed an effective teaching-learning tool focusing the introductory level physics courses to “better” convey the subject material to our students.

All our introductory level physics courses have essential lab components going parallel to the lecture. Experiments are performed mainly using high-tech lab equipment including computers. Students “successfully” complete these convenient experiments and analyze the data following instructions not necessarily comprehending what really happened in the lab. They often find difficulties relating the theory to the actual experiment. To find a remedy for these issues, we decided to use less expensive raw materials and let the students design “old fashion” experiments in a limited time. We encouraged them to move from their comfort zones and firsthand experience the subject through experiments. This activity was arranged in terms of weekly graded quizzes. A conceptual problem was presented along with the low-tech raw materials and the students worked in groups (of five) to solve the problem via the experiment they designed. At the end, they became more vocalized and turned into thinkers. This activity emphasized students to turn into active participants instead of becoming blind followers.