What happens when students do physics experiments in their dorm rooms? It all comes down to design.
Katie Ansell, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, firstname.lastname@example.org
Portable and inexpensive sensor equipment has opened up new opportunities to extend hands-on introductory physics learning beyond the traditional classroom space. This change of venue has many practical benefits, but the effects of these activities on student behavior and learning, particularly in uncontrolled “dorm room” settings, are not well understood. Over the past several semesters, we have explored the role of dorm room hands-on physics materials as a supplement to a large-enrollment introductory mechanics course. In pilot implementations, students used the Interactive Online Laboratory (IOLab) system to do simple experiments and answer questions based on online prompts. These online materials, and the underlying design principles, have evolved significantly based on student response data. In this talk I will describe our shift from rigid to open-ended activity design, the student behavior that resulted from these different approaches, and how we are moving forward to fully incorporate these activities into our introductory physics curriculum.