Evaluating enquiry-oriented experiments in a service subject


  • Les Kirkup
  • Lakshmi Srinivasan


Renewed interest in learning in laboratories and concerns about the relevance of the existing laboratory program prompted reconsideration of the role of enquiry-oriented experiences for biological and medical science majors at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) who are required to enrol in a semester of physics. In this study, supported by the Australian Teaching and Learning Council, we explore the development and evaluation of enquiry-oriented experiments for these majors. The process by which experiments are developed and evaluated includes input from academics, senior students and demonstrators. We give substance to the process through its application to the creation of a new experiment. An aspect of the process focussed upon in this paper involves students drawn from the biological/medical sciences, who completed the subject in earlier years. These students were paired with demonstrators in the evaluation and on going development of the experiment. The results of trialling the new experiment are examined as are the perspectives that students and demonstrators bring to the evaluation process. Issues of relevance and context are shown as keys to the engagement of biological/medical science majors in physics experiments.