The Nordic Physics Days, June 12-14, 2013


Teaching physics with a webbased student response system; four years of experience from HiST is going to be presentet at the third joint meeting of the Nordic Physical Societies. It is The Department of Physics at Lund University that hosts the meeting. The Nordic Physics Days is a conference both for researchers and teachers in physics. Physicists from Scandinavia are going to attend the conference.

Teachers in all levels of education face the same challenges: how do you stimulate interaction, collaboration and communication in the classroom – especially in large classes? And how can you involve all students, of all levels, including the very shy ones?

Sør-Trøndelag University College (HiST) has since 2009 been using the web-based student response system SRS which lets students use their mobile devices or computers to answer multiple-choice questions and quizzes during classes. The system has been used in a variety of subjects, including physics and mathematics, and substantial research has been done to measure the effect of such didactics on learning, and to establish best practises. The SRS uses existing wireless networks (wi-fi), which eliminates the need to build new infrastructure, and also the logistics of distributing hardware clickers.

The SRS facilitates teacher-student interaction by letting the teacher ask questions which are responded to immediately. The immediate feedback can then be used as a catalyst for collaboration and communication between the students – for example by asking a conceptual quiz question which lets the students engage in group discussions or other peer learning activities.

The SRS has been used by a significant number of teachers at the HiST, and a large variety of pedagogical approaches and methods have been tested. A number of methodological challenges have been identified, such as

  • at what time during a class should quizzes be run?
  • how can the effects of peer learning when running quizzes be maximized?
  • how can students be allowed to indicate their degree of certainty when answering a question?

SRS methodology in physics at the Faculty of Technology at HiST was the subject of a recent PhD thesis (Liestøl Nielsen 2012), and this thesis investigated how different SRS methodologies affect student participation and engagement, focusing especially on the peer instruction paradigm pioneered by Eric Mazur (Mazur 1997).

The presentation and demonstration will summarize the results obtained from using SRS to in physics education, and highlight the potential for use in Scandinavia.



SRS 2.0, PELE 1.5, Eval 1.0 and iLike 1.0 are available for use.