Today’s session is about using interactive lecture demonstrations to effectively improve your students’ understanding of concepts.
As I mentioned in my previous post, while students like demos, they don’t get the things we want them to get unless they predict the results of the experiement or somehow get involved. David Sokoloff showed how they have used interactive lecture demonstrations in their classrooms, for example, with the standard demonstration where a lens makes an imagine of a candle. What happens when you cover over half the lens? Most students say that half the image will go away, but the true answer is that it gets dimmer. They first describe the experiment, ask students to predict the results on their own, and then discuss with their neighbors, then show the results. Sometimes it’s a physical demonstration, sometimes there will be computer data involved (such as graphing the capacitance and voltage of a real circuit). They’ve started using clickers (i>clicker) and are looking for people who would like to use some of their clicker interactive lecture demonstrations — email him at sokoloff @ uoregon dot edu. Sounds like a great addition to an intro physics course!
There are a lot of recommendations and research on the interactive lecture demo approach in Redish’ book.
Jason Kahn (Tufts) presented some results from a conceptual evaluation showing that students do MUCH better on conceptual questions related to these topics after interactive lecture demonstrations. However, the learning gains don’t seem quite as high when they use clickers. They conjecture that the clickers don’t require students do actually do ray tracing, etc., as much as when they don’t have clickers. (My thought on that is that you shouldn’t present the clicker answer choices until they’ve done the ray tracing and other cognitive work required to arrive at an answer). That’s why they’re looking for people to try this in their course, so they can try to replicate these results.
Several other speakers talked about using interactive lecture demonstrations in their classrooms, and emphasized that it’s important to use them in the way intended by the developers, that it takes class time, but students respond positively to them. They are more likely to talk to each other and to ask questions.
One speaker discussed how they use video analysis software to analyze digital videos, which they often use in conjunction with interactive demos. You can see their materials here.