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Physics Practicals

Student Guide

Here are some tips for being a student in the Practicals

I hear ... and I forget
I see ... and I remember
I do ... and I understand
-- Chinese proverb

Students in a Practical

Physics Education Research shows that students learn best:

  • By interacting with their peers, especially when
  • The interactions are focused around conceptually-based guided discovery Activities, especially when
  • The Activities involve real apparatus and/or simulations.

The Physics Practicals implement the results of this research.

Some large introductory science courses have separate tutorials, in which a teaching assistant goes over lecture material, and laboratories, in which students perform experiments. The Practicals combine the tutorials and laboratories into a single Physics Practical which meets for two hours every week. Practicals concentrate on the concepts being discussed in class. They also introduce principles of experimental science and data analysis.

Students work in teams of three or four. As enrollments shift and some students drop the course, some re-organisation of the teams is necessary.  

Each team has three designated roles:

  1. A Facilitator. This person is the primary spokesperson for the team.
  2. A Skeptic: This person's role is to be skeptical about all conclusions reached by the team
  3. A Record Keeper. This person is responsible for keeping the notebook.

These roles should rotate every practical, so a different student is in each role every week.