What is the project?
During 2020/21, we ran a L4 MPhys project to develop a virtual oscilloscope using LabView software for use in the Level 1 physics laboratories module Discovery Skills in Physics.
The rationale for building this was that students generally meet oscillocopes for the first time in the course, they get limited hands on time with them and given their complexity, they can be imtimidating to use. Therefore, we decided to develop a virtual tool that could serve as a pre-laboratory practice to master the basic skills oustide the classroom, or serve as a refresher students in later laboratories.
The project also developed accompanying teaching materials to allow students perform the in-person experiments in a virtual way and collect their own data with some appropriate errors included.
Having returned to fully in person teaching in 2022/23 for this module, we are now collecting data to measure the efficacy of the tool. Student pairs (plus their staff instructor) using a real oscillocope for the first time in the experiment Circuits 2, have been audio recorded during the session. The transcripts will then be analysed to see if students who have used the virtual tool pre-laboratory ask fewer procedural questions (e.g. "What does this button do?", "How do I do...?"). We would also expect them to spend more time concentrating on the physics content of the experiment.
Additionally, we're interested in any differences displayed by students who have specific learning difficulty (SpLD), such as dyslexia. Some previous studies have suggested students with a SpLD benefit more from these interactive preparation methods.
Further data collection is planned for early Epiphany term 2023 in the form of focussed interviews and class surveys.
For more details on this project please contact Dr Pippa Petts (email@example.com) or Dr Peter Swift (firstname.lastname@example.org).