An appraisal of an online tutorial system for teaching and learning of engineering physics in conjunction with contextual physics and mathematics

Ragbir Bhathal

Abstract


Due to the Australian Federal Government’s policy of increasing the participation rate of students in the tertiary sector, the number of students has increased tremendously in engineering schools in Australia over the last few years. While from a social equity point of view this is a welcome initiative, it has, however, raised a number of issues and problems in the teaching and learning of engineering physics in large first year classes. Students now come with a diverse background of skills, motivations and prior knowledge in the subject. It was imperative that a new system of teaching and learning of the subject be investigated and developed. This paper describes the use of a Socratic online learning and assessment tool called Mastering Physics in a first year undergraduate class in an engineering degree course to solve some of the issues arising from the teaching and learning of engineering physics in large first year classes. It also discusses the use of contextual physics and mathematics in the teaching and learning of engineering physics. The results of the study showed a positive outcome of using the MasteringPhysics online teaching and learning system in conjunction with contextual physics and mathematics. Taken as a whole, it was found that students showed an improvement in their final examination results.

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