Characterizing Lab Environments Using Activity Theory

The physics laboratory is a complex environment where students encounter the messiness of the real world, use scientific equipment, execute experimental procedures, make predictions using mathematical and computational models, and more. Despite their potential value, the lab experience can be negative or not effective, especially if the goals and outcomes are not well aligned.

This presentation uses Activity Theory (AT) to make sense of three very different laboratory environments: the “traditional lab”, RealTime Physics (a focus on conceptual learning), and Thinking Critically in Physics Labs (a focus on scientific abilities).

The presentation may be interesting to anyone who is developing or studying laboratory instruction in the sciences.

Photo of Ben Zwickl

Photo: Ben Zwickl

The bi-weekly ODD seminar series at CCSE

The Open Discussions on Didactics (ODD) is a seminar series on Mondays at 14.15 every other week (odd week numbers) on Zoom.

The seminar will be maximum one hour, often closer to half an hour. It is an informal arena to present and discuss learning theory, educational research and teaching experiences within computational science. To cater to the highly heterogeneous backgrounds and interests of students, teachers and researchers in our environment, we aim for seminars that introduce listeners to new ideas within a broad spectrum of aspects, and that invites reflection and discussion.

Presentations need not be mature and polished - to the contrary we hope that as many as possible wants to share undigested observations and reflections in short presentations of varied form and topics. We hope to have enough contributions to frequently have the meetings as lightning talk sessions, where three different speakers will each give a 5-10-minute presentation followed by discussion.

Published Sep. 6, 2022 4:59 PM - Last modified Sep. 7, 2022 12:57 PM