Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Blogging Improves Students' Attitude Towards Physics?

Who knew?

This is a first for me since I've never heard of this line of physics education research and technique. It seems that having an official blog for a intro physics course, when conducted properly, can actually improve students attitude towards physics.

The blog was integrated into the course as follows: since reading the blog would be on top of the numerous assignments, reading quizzes, and exams that general physics students at CU already had to complete, we decided to assign the blog as extra credit. The course instructors (mainly GD) posted several times a week to the course blog. Students received a few points of extra credit per week for (1) reading the posts to the course blog during the week and (2) for posting comments to one or more posts. The criteria for student comments were that they be a thoughtful and articulate reflection on the blog post, about a paragraph in length, that tied in outside information relevant to the topic in question. In other words, students had to move beyond a simple “This is cool!” response and include some actual content, much of which was the result of additional research on their part.

OK, I'll say it. This is cool! :)

Well, it is! After all that we've heard and read about some high-tech gadgets that various schools are using to improve physics education, while others are trying some elaborate approaches with demonstrations and complete overhaul of the teaching techniques, here's a method that involves something relatively simple and already widely available to every school and instructors. All one needs is some extra time and effort, as well as understanding how the blog should be run. If their results are to be believed, it appears that it is a rather effective technique for very little money. Who could argue against that?


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