Overview

In this activity, students complete a reflective writing on torque, communicating and responding to each other both during the reading and after the writing is completed.

To begin, the instructor assigns a reading to be completed before class. Prior to the first class of the week, students complete the reading, commenting on it and asking for clarification on points of confusion, and responding to others. Perusall can be used to easily track and grade student comments and responses, though any online forum would be an adequate substitute. Students should write about 6 comments or responses, and are given a nominal grade ...

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In this activity, students complete a reflective writing on torque, communicating and responding to each other both during the reading and after the writing is completed.

To begin, the instructor assigns a reading to be completed before class. Prior to the first class of the week, students complete the reading, commenting on it and asking for clarification on points of confusion, and responding to others. Perusall can be used to easily track and grade student comments and responses, though any online forum would be an adequate substitute. Students should write about 6 comments or responses, and are given a nominal grade based on the quality. This portion is completed as a class, with all students able to see each others comments and able to respond.

Once they have completed the reading assignment, students complete their reflective writing, responding to three prompts. The first should require an explanation of a physics-related concept (for example identifying torques in their day to day life), the second has them reflect about what they have learned (for example by describing what they found most interesting in the lecture), and the third has students describe what points they are still confused about. The reflective writings are uploaded to an online collaborative platform and are visible only within pre-assigned groups of 8-10 students. This submission should be made the day before lectures for the week begin.

Prior to the class, the instructor reads through a sample of the reflective writings to determine what points should be emphasized during class. The class typically begins with a brief mini-lecture, followed by solving problems in a worksheet (in groups of 4).

Before the end of the week, students must respond to at least two other reflective writings from their group of 8-10 in the online collaborative platform. These responses should be insightful and ask questions, clarify, or explain points.

Students can be graded both on the readings (receiving a grade if they make at least 6 comments or responses, which can be automatically graded if using Perusall) and on their reflective writings (graded out of 4: 2 marks for the reflective writing and 1 for each response).

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Objectives

Students will familiarize themselves with the concept of torque.

Context and requirements

Level CEGEP; University
Discipline Physics
Course Mechanics
Activity Content Torque
Technological Requirements An online collaborative platform should be used, such as Visual Classrooms. In addition, Perusall can be used for the readings.
Best Use Preparation

Author’s Notes

Benefits

The primary benefit is that all students have a voice in this activity, even those that aren’t necessarily at the top of the class. Students remain engaged with each other, and if this activity is used consistently for each topic they learn to support each other, creating a good atmosphere in the class.

Having students write their questions and comments allows them to be more at ease, as an online forum can be less intimidating than the classroom. Working in their small groups of 8-10 throughout the year allows them to bond more closely.

Challenges

Grading can be a challenge when using this method, as there are two separate portions on which the students are graded (the reading and the writing). Keeping the marking simple and not giving written feedback each time helps. Three written feedbacks per semester is plenty, with two early on and one later in the semester. Grading should be superficial. If you are using Perusall, the grading for the reading portion can be done automatically.

Tips

The questions that go over best are the ones that aren’t “test questions”. These should be written conceptual questions, and those that allow students to connect their out of class life with the physics can elicit particularly interesting responses.

Activity Pedagogical Components

Reflective Writing

INDIVIDUALLY, students complete a reading assignment on torque, then complete a reflective writing by following three prompts. This is completed OUT OF CLASS.

Problem Solving

Most the class is spent solving problems (in GROUPS) chosen by the instructor to tackle the difficulties students encountered (based on their reflective writings). This is done IN CLASS.

Peer Review

Students peer review each others reflective writings, commenting on them and responding to points of confusion and issues in the writings. This is completed INDIVIDUALLY, OUT OF CLASS.

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