Physics workshop tutorials: views of life-science students

R. A. Lewis


Workshop tutorials involve small groups of students using hands-on demonstrations and answering questions under the auspices of a tutor. Physics education research underpinned the development of workshop tutorials (Sharma, Millar and Seth 1999; Wilson, Peseta, Sharma and Millar 2002). Greater attendance at workshop tutorials is correlated with better examination marks (Sharma et al. 1999).

Physics workshop tutorials were introduced at the University of Wollongong in 2004 for a class of life-science students. None of the students expected to continue physics into second year. Many had a poor background in physics. Each week the class spent an hour in workshop tutorials, an hour in conventional tutorials, two hours in lectures, and two hours in laboratory. In contrast to Sharma et al. (1999), attendance was not voluntary but expected, and the timing was tutor-controlled not selfpaced. Participation in the workshop tutorials was not assessable. The purpose of this research is to ascertain student views on this implementation of workshop tutorials: (a) their overall satisfaction, (b) aspects they rank most highly and (c) suggested improvements.

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