June 14, 2009
June 14, 2009
June 17, 2009
Engineering Physics & Physics
14.1113.1 - 14.1113.9
Synergistic learning environment using Blackboard learning cells
We report on an innovative approach to teaching Introductory Physics to general education students. Presentations can engage students meaningfully but employing the technique in large classes may be problematic. We tested the method on a class of sixty six students. Blackboard was used for student interaction; students were divided in six groups and Blackboard discussion groups were created accordingly. Questions pertaining to the covered topics and related to the students’ majoring fields were formulated progressively in sets of six, weekly. Students from each group had to negotiate and be responsible for the question assigned to the group. A presentation session was introduced once a week. Although a relatively small weight of the presentation component was assigned, a positive atmosphere of support and collaboration was created. Students also practised their internet research skills by using audio and video resources available online. A synergistic effect was created due to the presentation component, which allowed all students to identify and reflect on physics ideas and their applications. The successful aspects together with possible improvements of the teaching procedures are reported.
1. Introduction The use of Blackboard system  is widespread now and is recommended over regular course websites , as it is significantly more versatile for course management and interaction with students. The system is most effective for distance courses  as online courses  can be delivered in a consistent meaningful manner even if recent works show that there are some challenges associated with distance learning . The system has great built in flexibility and allows instructors to use their imagination in designing the course , interacting with students, or documenting activity requirements . In addition, it also facilitates the peer assessment process .
The Physics general education courses may sometimes present challenges due to the highly heterogeneous student population and to the level of interest in the course. Large classes also present challenges in engaging students during class time as well as in verifying the academic integrity of the submitted homework .
In the initial stages of the course, students often fail to see or acknowledge the relevance of the material to their field of studies. An initial in-class survey shows that student interest varies from 0 to 10 (10 being the maximum possible). Fig.1 shows the frequency of the answers with an average of 6.61 out of 10. There are various techniques developed by Physics instructors to engage students in the learning process. We have particularly designed the course to increase student interaction and allow them to make connections among the taught concepts and their relevance to personal interests. We innovatively made use of the available technology, particularly the Blackboard system. In any larger class it may often be difficult to make students active and to stimulate them to bring their own contributions to the course. The procedure we employed and on which we presently report used the Blackboard system in order to create virtual cells that can also interact. The taught class – Physics 100 level, four contact hours– comprised 66 students and we
Ieta, A., & Manseur, R., & Doyle, T. (2009, June), Synergistic Learning Environment Using Blackboard Learning Cells Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. https://peer.asee.org/4837
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