LEARNING MODULES, AN USEFULL TOOL TO TEACH THE TREATMENT OF EXPERIMENTAL DATA
In recent decades, pedagogical tendencies have changed so that teaching focuses on the student rather than the subject. The teacher acts as a guide, giving the students the tools and showing them the different ways they can apply themselves to the learning process. Many articles outline how new technologies (interactive tutorials, learning modules, Internet, forum...) can be used in the learning process. The principal advantage is the possibility of integrating different means of communication (visual, auditive) in different supports (text, mathematical expressions, graphics, diagrams, photographs, video, animations), either individually or mixed. Besides their availability, in common with books, new technologies offer the interactivity and the non linearity that favors learning by individual discovery. If the material is well designed it keeps the student’s attention and motivates the new generations, who are used to multimedia systems.
In this context, la Universidad Politécnica de Valencia (Spain) has choosen to participate in the Sakai CLE platform that provides features to supplement and enhance teaching and learning. It enables to create interactive tutorials in an powerfull but intuitive way. Therefore, teachers do not need to learn new and complicated software. First of all, teachers have prepared small pieces of knowledge named “Objetos de Aprendizaje” (learning objects), each one corresponding to one isolated concept. Linking different learning objects can be elaborated a more complex idea, that is called “Módulo de aprendizaje” (learning modules). The content of a learning modules corresponds with two hours of student work, approximately. The object of a learning modulus is to favour the student learn a concept by means of explanations, schemes, simulations, activivities, exams and everything the instructor considers important. The main advantage of this tool is that all the elements are integrated and all together enable the learning process. The main issue to take into account is how the elements are presented to the student in order to obtain the desired results.
The application of the new technologies is specially interesting when the classic strategies have failed in their objective. This is the case of the treatment of experimental data. The concepts: uncertainty of a experimental measurement, error propagation, graphical display and mean squared fit seem to be very difficult to be understood by our students. Our experience demonstrate that, even if they are able to learn the concepts when the teacher explain them, they fail in the application of those concepts to a practical situation a few weeks later. It seams that students need to work with tis concepts repeatidly to obtain an effective knowledge. And is in this task that the learning modules can result useful.
The paper will focus on the presentation of a learning modulus able to guide students in their work with experimental data. It consits in three learning objects: uncertainty, error propagation and graphical display. Each one of them has a conceptual writen development; besides, the teacher, recorded with the supporting material, explains or clarifyes the content within each section; and there are also activities that students should accomplish. The evaluation test gives information about the succes of the work done. Only students of the physics course can access to the learning module but they can use it as many times as they need it.