University of Alicante (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2024 Proceedings
Publication year: 2024
Pages: 4073-4078
ISBN: 978-84-09-59215-9
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2024.1046
Conference name: 18th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 4-6 March, 2024
Location: Valencia, Spain
University education in basic sciences has tended to focus on the theoretical, while experimental and practical aspects have tended to take a back seat. One of the main problems faced by university graduates is the abrupt change that comes when they leave university and start working in the professional world. At university, especially in laboratory courses, lecturers help students to acquire experience and solve problems, so work in classrooms and laboratories is highly guided. Laboratory materials are often ready to use and the solution to problems is usually known. Private companies or research laboratories expect to find responsible professionals who know how to use more sophisticated equipment. They are looking for professionals capable of solving difficult situations or proposing innovative solutions, alone or as part of multidisciplinary teams.

The aim of this work is to promote reflexive, autonomous and collaborative learning in the context of a research laboratory. The proposal has been carried out in the context of a Photonics subject in the 4th year of Physics at the University of Alicante. This subject has been taught by the same professors since 2020, and they consider that students can benefit from having complementary curricular materials before carrying out the holography exercises in the research laboratory. The holography laboratory has specific equipment, such as different types of lasers, optical materials and computer equipment, the use of which is required by specialists. In this case, learning takes place in a mixed environment between students, teachers and researchers, where different research projects supported by both public and private entities are developed. A working team in which students and researchers can work together, and in which students have the opportunity to work with sophisticated equipment, has made a positive contribution to the training of students as good professionals.

Different research tools have been used in this didactic research. On the one hand, four laboratory guides were developed: photopolymer material, transmission gratings, reflection gratings and Denisyuk-type holograms. These guides have been made available to the students before the start of the practices. These materials have helped students and researchers to work together, enabling them to collaborate with each other. They have also contributed to the correct use of the research equipment. On the other hand, the use of software such as LabView or Spectra ManagerTM has fostered the technological skills of the students. Students have been organised in groups to carry out different learning tasks related to chemistry, optics and computer science. Finally, inter-group communication has been used to develop and promote active learning and social skills, such as multi-channel communication between different groups and between teachers and students.

At the end of this work, the new proposed methodology has been evaluated by comparing it with the previous one. This has been analysed by means of questionnaires taking into account the specific and transversal competences acquired in each course. In addition, the level of success in learning has also been studied from a gender perspective and from the use of technological and computer tools.
University education, autonomous learning, professional world, collaborative learning, research laboratory, didactic research.