Junior Physics Lab - Online Training Reduces Student Stress

Physics (Course 8)
Junior Physics Lab
Sean Robinson
Digital Innovations & Tools
Active Learning
Blended Learning & Flipped Classroom

Starting with a major restructuring effort, the Advanced Junior Physics lab has continued to introduce innovations to encourage strong student engagement, foster a hands on approach to learning, focus on preparatory content and exercises, and evolve an instructor presence that balances inquiry and challenge with scaffolding and support. Although the material presented in 8.13 was highly valued by students, anecdotal reports suggested high frustration levels, unproductive use of time, and academic overwhelm.

Using the MITx platform, Dr. Sean Robinson and his colleagues were able to reduce student overwhelm through online training exercises early in the semester. These exercises helped lower student stress and better prepare students for later tasks and projects.

The attached white paper, authored by Robinson and colleagues, outlines several strategies of using flipped classroom techniques to help students learn more efficiently.

Physics Junior Lab continues to engage deeply with students, conceptualizing teaching from the perspective of how students approach challenging exercises. Not only does the lab involve complex projects and assignments, it is also requires communications and writing component . Students author and present lab results to a small group of instructors. In both lab activities and presentations Robinson and his team of instructors center their approach around high touch strategies: tuning into the students' perspective, offering an effective mix of scaffolding, inquiry, and support.