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This content is taken from the National STEM Learning Centre's online course, Teaching Practical Science: Physics. Join the course to learn more.

Skip to 0 minutes and 4 seconds This week we will be looking at electricity but also looking at the issues we have to work with in practical work in general. It is often said across science departments that “If it doesn’t work, it’s physics!” Practical failure can have a negative impact on understanding. Looking back to previous weeks, it could be that the hole in the bucket was too small to get sand out to see a clear pattern, or that the wave produced wasn’t perfectly sinusoidal which might create misconceptions. When looking at radiation you might have a faulty Gieger Muller tube. Radioactive sources could be both gamma and alpha emitters which could lead to conceptual problems.

Skip to 0 minutes and 42 seconds Gamma radiation would be less ionising than the alpha, so when you put a barrier in the way students may believe that both the alpha and gamma are absorbed by the aluminium barrier, which is incorrect. In this week we focus on practical work around the topic of electricity, but the principles behind what we cover could apply to any topic that you are teaching. We will learn how we can model work for students, how to build their resilience and problem solving skills, as well as looking at how to build assessment approaches into practical work.

Assessment of learning through practical work

In the previous two weeks, we have looked at how to embed real-world contexts into your practical lessons and practical implications of the work students perform using the radiation topic as an example. We then moved onto how to build progression into your practical work using waves as a way to address this.

In this final week of the practical physics course, we are looking at how we can develop problem-solving skills with our students, along with building their resilience. We will also be discussing how you can build assessment of learning into the practical work you do with students.

In this course, we will use the topic of electricity to touch on examples of using formative assessment, such as the use of mini-whiteboards for immediate feedback, the use of problems solving, interactive dialogue and collaborative learning. You can learn more about these ideas in our Assessment For Learning MOOC.

Although this week the focus is on the topic of electricity the ideas and concepts we cover will be transferable and allow you to change barriers to learning into opportunities across all the topics that you will be teaching.

By the end of this week you should have more confidence in:

  • how to model work for students across a variety of topics
  • how to build resilience and problem-solving skills with your students
  • building assessment approaches into practical work

Q&A with Adam and Tom

Remember that at the end of this course there is the question and answer with Adam and Tom. Take a look at step 3.13 to find out more.

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This video is from the free online course:

Teaching Practical Science: Physics

National STEM Learning Centre