Integrating Online Information Search in Physics Tutorials

Grant program: Teaching and Learning Development Grant (TLDG)

Grant recipient: Michael Chen, Department of Physics

Project Team: Daria Ahrensmeier, Teaching and Learning Centre, and Zahra Lotfi Mahyari, research assistant

Timeframe: May 2016 to December 2017

Funding: $5,000

Courses addressed:

  • PHYS 100 – Introduction to Physics
  • PHYS 102 – Physics for Life Sciences II
  • PHYS 121 – Optics, Electricity, Magnetism

Final report: View Michael Chen's final report (PDF)

Description: Searching information online has become a more and more important way of learning for almost everybody. In this project, we will investigate the feasibility of integrating online information search in physics classes and the required changes to how the classes are taught, as well as the impact of using online information search on the students’ grasp of fundamental concepts and methods and their perception of learning.

Questions addressed:

  • Is it feasible to make online information search a useful part of a tutorial or/and lecture class?
  • What features do the assignment questions/activities need to have to make the search for information online necessary and useful?
  • What level of difficulty and complexity is necessary to keep the students focused on searching information relevant to the assignment/activity and not get distracted?
  • How does the integration of online information search affect student learning and their perception of learning?
  • Does in-class searching information online improve the students' learning experience?
  • Does our approach improve the students' performance in their exams?

Knowledge sharing: We will present our findings to our colleagues in the physics department, and perhaps to a broader range of audience.

Ahrensmeier, D., Chen, M., & Mahyar, Z. L. (2018, June). Integrating online information search in tutorials: Effects on student learning and perceptions. Presentation at the 2018 Canadian Association of Physics (CAP) Congress, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS.

Keywords: Information search, online activities, Internet use, class observation, focus group, survey