The Department of Physics have a new studio space for their undergraduate students.
Head of Department Professor Richard Easther wanted to enhance the stage one physics courses to improve retention and learning outcomes for first year students. Professional Teaching Fellow Dr Katie Foote proposed a Studio approach because “research from studio physics courses at other institutions demonstrates the studio format improves student attendance, problem solving, conceptual learning, attitudes toward science and student retention.”
The result was a significant renovation of the stage one lab (303-G03) that saw the old lab benches turned into round tables. Now 303-G03, also has new whiteboards on the walls and monitors around the classroom. The classroom is designed to de-emphasize the instructor's lecturing and instead emphasize student's learning, with problems and activities that are more open-ended and real world based so students can build transferable skills. The lab, tutorial and "lecture" sections of the course are integrated so students have class in the same room with an instructor and two GTAs for three two-hour sessions per week.
The new room is mostly for Physics 120 and 121, the calculus-based introductory sequence. However, Physics 107 and assorted classes may use the space.
After the first week, Katie is happy with the result, “students seem engaged so time flies during sessions and it is fun to see what the students can do. They are connecting physics to their lives, communicating their ideas to their classmates and using technology to enhance their learning of physics”.