“I like knowing how it all fits together”: Creating desirable difficulties in the Physics lab.

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Bridge, Kate
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Educational Level
ISCED Level 3 Upper secondary education
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Geographical Setting
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Background and purpose: To achieve in the classroom and to embed understanding students need to undergo a degree of struggle in the learning process. This paper explores changes to teaching techniques to ensure supported and appropriate levels of struggle takes place in all students in the Physics Classroom.

Aims: To explore how a change of technique in planning and teaching can lead to a shift in attitude in students, encouraging them to take greater risks with their learning and lead to possibly greater achievement

Study design or methodology: 50 students of mixed ability were taught a Physics topic, over a 6-week period using planning techniques that encouraged greater independence from the students.

Findings: Quantitative data showed slight improvement in test-based data. Observation from colleagues and from students showed a shift in attitude toward independence and further pursuit of mastery. Greater ownership encourages students to be more self-reliant whilst learning.

Implications for practice: Planning sequences of learning should be based around skills acquired rather than content. Undergoing research / deliberate practice enables teachers to refine their craft. Student independence and struggle can help students feel more confident in their learning approach.
Keywords (free text)
physics , desirable difficulties , independent learning , deliberate practice
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