Overview: In Spring 2016, Professor Andre Adler of Physics introduced active learning techniques into his large undergraduate lecture, General Physics II.
Professor Adler used two online interactive platforms to engage students and facilitate active problem solving during and after lecture.
Course Innovation: In this video, Dr. Adler speaks about engaging students and facilitating learning in a very large STEM lecture course. One challenging aspect of this 350+ student course is that it meets in the Skirball Theater, which has fixed, theater-style seating and prevents active collaboration. To counter the constraints of the space, Professor Adler used two online systems to:
- give students problems before and after class to help them to prepare for and process lecture content
- deliver questions during lecture, to make sure that students are understanding material and identify points of confusion
- facilitate collaboration by offering problems that students work on together during specific points in the lecture
- allow students to pose questions to the professor
Instructor and Students
- Mastering Physics: this tutorial and homework system syncs to the textbook and offers pre-class and homework assignments. Pre-class assignments prepare students for lecture and homework assignments explore the concepts further through a variety of problem types not found in the textbook.
- Learning Catalytics: this classroom engagement system that delivers questions for group problem solving. Responses are entered using a laptop, tablet or smartphone.
Charts, from left to right, asked the students to assess the following:
- LC helped me to stay engaged during lectures
- LC helped me to identify points of confusion during lecture
- LC helped me to review for graded assignments outside of class
- LC helped me to understand specific concepts
Selected students’ qualitative comments:
- I thought that overall it was a very useful learning tool. While many science courses have sample questions in class, the fact that Learning Catalytics participation was graded provided an effective incentive to really stay engaged and work on the problems. Additionally, it allowed me to return to the problems later and review the answers.
- I very much appreciated using the learning catalytics software, and wish that it was a resource for Physics I and any other science course. I liked that it kept us engaged during class, provided a useful study tool for exams, and I especially liked that we got credit for coming to lecture prepared.
- It made it significantly easier to ask the professor questions, often it can be intimidating to ask in front of the hundreds of other students. Additionally it showed us what other students were thinking, and didn’t make us feel so alone if we got a problem wrong.