Major Leap Forward for Physics Students
University of Leicester is leading a university consortium to develop a new
concept of education for Physics and Astronomy undergraduates.
partner universities Hertfordshire, Reading and Sheffield, Leicester's
Department of Physics and Astronomy is introducing problem-based learning into
its undergraduate teaching in an initiative known as Project LeAP, directed by
Dr Derek Raine.
example of the kind of problem assignment involved is the 'Desert Island Rescue
Problem'. First-year Physics students
imagine they are stranded with a limited supply of equipment. They have to work
together in groups to build a power source for a rescue beacon.
Sarah Symons, LeAP Project Manager, commented: “We
have piloted laboratory teaching of undergraduates in which there is an element
of problem solving and experimental design. The
problems are more open-ended than in traditional courses. We don't give the
students all the information they need to solve the problems, so that they have
to ask themselves what they don't know and where they can find it out. The
increased involvement with the task enhances both understanding and retention.
feature of LeAP is that students work in groups and this increases their team
strengths. Our aim is to produce students
with the more rounded skills they will need in future jobs, whether they go into
industry or research.”
LeAP has been funded for three years by the Higher Education Funding Council,
England (HEFCE) under the initiative Fund for the Development of Teaching and
Learning Phase 4. The outcome of the
project will be available to other universities in a report outlining good
practice and implementation methods.
For further information please contact Dr Sarah Symons, Project Manager
for Project LeAP, University of Leicester Department of Physics and Astronomy,
telephone 0116 252 2069, facsimile 0116 252 2070, email firstname.lastname@example.org
This document has been approved by the head of department or section.