Physics Education for Students: An Interdisciplinary Approach

Active Learning in Studying Physics as the First Research Experience of University Students

Author(s): Elena Kazakova, Svetlana Kirpu, Marina Kruchek, Elena Moshkina, Olga Sergeeva and Elena Tikhomirova * .

Pp: 13-23 (11)

DOI: 10.2174/9789814998512121010004

* (Excluding Mailing and Handling)


Modern educational standards impose high requirements on the qualification of higher education graduates majoring in engineering and technical areas. The development of professional competencies is carried out both through students’ educational activities and scientific research work. Research activities allow students to acquire the skills necessary to perform scientific research, develop independence and initiative, intensify students’ cognitive activity, and contribute to creative thinking of a future engineer.

The authors of the article, being university lecturers in physics, mathematics, and English, share the experience of involving first-and second-year students of the Institute of Physics and Technology in research work through out-of-class activities. At the beginning of studies, students go through a period of adaptation to university environment; they have different levels of initial training and lack experimental skills. Nevertheless, during this period of study it is very important to give a student the opportunity to get a “feel” for science, so that a student has a chance to try and solve a task independently, even if it is not difficult enough, and, thus, to experience the joy of learning. Students’ enthusiasm for learning should be taken into consideration as an important factor for the development of research skills. Teaching staff members need to take into account students’ interests, give them the opportunity to develop their abilities, so that first- and second-year students could determine their own individual learning paths, despite the different levels of initial training in the subject and degrees of motivation. One way to solve this complicated problem is to involve students actively in learning.

Student's research work should be a comprehensive, goal-oriented and a methodically justified system, in which the complexity of the tasks being solved is consistently increasing. The authors believe that the development of students’ research skills should be carried out both within the class hours and out-of-class studies through the following activities. In-class activities include performing mini-research projects, analyzing and processing results during laboratory work, preparing scientific reports for seminar presentations, involving students to perform a physics demonstration experiment in lectures. During extracurricular time, as part of out-of-class independent studies, students are encouraged to participate in a wide range of additional activities: conducting research for interdisciplinary projects, preparing a research report in a foreign lanuage as well, and creating working models of devices that demonstrate physical phenomena and processes. Such tasks make it possible to expand the scope of students' active learning activities, broaden students’ scientific horizons, and form the skills of a researcher.

As a result of ongoing work to involve first- and second-year students in research activities, the number of students participating in student scientific conferences and those awarded scholarships for successful participation in scientific research has increased. Student involvement in the educational process makes them an active part of it, enhances their personal capabilities, contributing to the formation of the required competencies, creating an atmosphere of development of scientific and creative potential, and laying the foundations for future research work in later years of study.

Keywords: Active learning, Foreign language, Individual learning paths, Interdisciplinary connections, Mathematics, Physics, Project-based learning, Students’ research work.

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