The SUPER group is engaged in many different projects, and
we're always interested in discussing new ideas.
Contact us for more information about any of the following projects.
Workshop Tutorials | Sports Phisiology
physics | Undergrad physics learning experiences |
Changes in the HSC
Transfering maths skills | Undergrad lab objectives | Different hats in physics and biology | Conceptions of Gravity
Testing ILDs | Agricultural physics | Thermal Physics Resources
Interactive Workshop Tutorials
Manju Sharma, Rosemary Millar and Kate Wilson
The Workshop Tutorials, the product of a nationally funded CUTSD initiative across a collaboration of universities, were developed in the School of Physics at the University of Sydney. They are based on cooperative grouping and include simple hands on activities (demonstrations), both features highly rated by students. The Workshop Tutorials have evolved into a powerful learning environment for students, and are easy to insert into existing physics courses. The project has produced Workshop Tutorial teaching and learning material, which are freely available. Click here to enter the Workshop Tutorial environment. Click here to view the Workshop Tutorial photo album.
We have been investigating the use of an electronic classroom communication system in large first year lecture classes. Students use the keypads to answer two step multiple choice problems after a discussion within their group. The questions are generated using students' answers from previous exams. Our evaluations show that students are comfortable with this technology and feel that, on the whole, interactive lectures are useful. At a first glance, there is an improvement in students' exam performance, but there are too many competing factors to clearly say that this improvement is solely due to the use of the classroom communication system. This work has been accepted for publication in the Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 2005. To see the two step multiple choice problems please click here.
Development of a physics-based unit of study for Sports Physiology students
Kirsten Hogg, Manju Sharma and Rosemary Millar
The introduction of a new physics-based unit of study for Sports Phisiology students gives us the opportunity to apply PER ideas to the unit's design. The content will be based around themes, with the aim of placing the physics concepts firmly in a context suited to the students.
Student learning experiences in undergraduate physics
Aaron Whymark, Manju Sharma and Chris Stewart
In what ways do physics students try to learn physics? What do they think physics actually is? What do they think about the way physics is taught? We are trying to identify understand the links between all of these different views of physics to see what groups of students we have in our undergraduate courses.
Effects of changes in the HSC syllabus on undergraduate students' learning experiences
Manju Sharma and Chris Stewart
Recent changes in this state's high school syllabi may have a dramatic impact on the ways in which students view and approach their learning. We are examining any changes in learning styles and attitudes of students entering university physics courses that may be due to these different methods of presenting physics at high school. This work is part of a collaboration with our RIBET friends in the School of Biological Sciences.
Transferability of maths skills
A particular idea or technique in mathematics - for example, the idea of exponential growth and decay - may appear in very disparate fields of science. The language, symbols and tradition of these techniques often differ across the different disciplines; students may not even recognise that they are re-learning the same skills over again. We will examine whether students transfer these common maths skills between disciplines.
Objectives of the Undergraduate Physics Laboratories
Malathi Nagarajan, Manju Sharma and Chris Stewart
an examination of the physics lab courses across the three years of undergrad physics at the University of Sydney shows that the goals and objectives of these labs have been varied and somewhat undefined in the past. We are compiling a set of coherent, concise objectives that will assist in remodelling and improving lab-based learning in physics.
Do students who study both physics and biology wear different hats?
Ian Sefton, Manju Sharma and Chris Stewart
As part of the investigation into student learning, we are collaborating with colleagues in the School of Biological Sciences to see if students who study both physics and biology have different learning approaches towards, and conceptions of, the two subjects. Do similar learning experiences in the two subjects lead to similar learning outcomes, or similar levels of achievement on assessment?
Students' conceptions of gravity
Martyn Cole and Manju Sharma
Undergraduate physics students hold particular conceptions - and misconceptions - about the nature of gravity. While many different areas of student misconceptions in physics have been studied in depth, their notions of gravity are relatively unexplored.
Testing the benefits of using Interactive Lecture Demonstrations
Ian Johnston and Chris Stewart
Interactive Lecture Demonstrations (ILDs), developed by Ron Thornton and David Sokoloff, are a way to tease out and correct misconceptions that students hold about fundamental ideas in physics. We are testing the gains in students' understanding of subtlte ideas in Newtonian mechanics using these ILDs, comparing our students' results against the enormous gains reported in North American universities.
Developing web-based material in Agricultural Science units of study
Manju Sharma and Chris Stewart
The physics-based unit of study for first-year Agricultural Science students is being developed as a multi-modal unit, with traditional lectures complemented by labs, workshops, field-trips and web-based instructional material. Rather than using technology for its own sake, we are aiming to identify topics that are particularly suited to multi-media presnetation on the web.
Thermal Physics Resources
From 1995 to 1998 Pal worked with the SUPER group to develop a collection of resources such as demonstrations, questions, videos that could be used when teaching Thermal Physics. The result of this work appears on his collection of web pages that contain material suitable for use in lectures, tutorials and other teaching environments.
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