Mid-Semester Feedback in Physics

Here it is. The three questions I always ask the day after the exam, before they know how they did. So readers, what do you notice? What stands out to you? What seems common? What’s seem unique?

What happens in class that is helpful for your learning? What specifically is helpful about it?

I really enjoy the group work on the whiteboard. It helps to see all the work and hear how people process information.

Repeated and varied demonstrations help me to learn the concepts. Repetition is a strong learning tool of it’s own,  but additional demonstrations tie the math to the actual results.

We do a lot of practice problems, which I like. I think learning goal quizzes do really help me. I also think that working in groups and discussing how we figure something out together is also helpful. I like the whiteboards.

Showing and experimenting on the information. It allows me to comprehend from various scenarios.

We do a lot of discussion and hands-on. Lectures are made as simple as possible to explain. Group work is helpful, especially the whiteboards.

I love the problems we get to do. I like watching a problem working out and then completing it with my group.

Demonstration and diagrams on the board are both helpful in understanding concepts.

The explanation of why as opposed to just equations is helpful.

Hands-on experiments are great. Working out problems on whiteboards.

The constant examples problems and group work. It gives us variation in what we do and what we might see on the exams.

At 1st I hated quizzes and reassessments but they really are helpful, because they make us study, and help us get ready.

Practicing problems on our own.

Hands-on activities, where I can witness what we are trying to measure and understand.

I was skeptical of reassessments since they seem to just add more quizzes to the ones we’ve already have, but now that the test is over, I’ll say I was very confident going into and coming out of the exam. I think that had a lot to do with it. The group whiteboard activities are also helpful when we first introduce ideas, too.

Working in groups, because it helps me to learn by playing ideas off others.

You explaining things combined with exercises. We get a lot of practice working problems in class.

The thing that’s most helpful, and also the most annoying, is assessments. I learn so much more by being forced to do homework problems and retake quizzes until I’ve mastered it. And honestly, I wouldn’t do as many hw problems if it weren’t for it.

Example problems, hands-on stuff help make the information relatable.

Practicing problems in group-building a better understanding of physics.

Hands on physics, see what happens. I don’t like being just told. Seeing is worth more.

White-boarding activities are helpful. We collaborate as a group to solve it.

Working problems with actual examples. It helps because you can relate it to real examples, show how things work instead of just believing without proof.

Working in groups, bantering back and forth, these held to solidify ideas in my mind. Working problems as  group helps learning problem solving processes.

Working through different examples is good.

What happens in class that is not helpful for your learning? What

Group work. This is a problem specific to me–lack of people skills and social anxiety.

Nothing is unhelpful, but some activities are not as helpful as others, but I cannot think of any that are just not helpful.

A change that may be beneficial is a review day for upcoming tests.

I always like to see everything worked out, so when steps are skipped sometimes it’s not helpful and I get lost.

The lab calculations because I am usually confused about exactly what to do, because lab manual and what we need aren’t always the same.

A class period workload is unhelpful in that those who work at a faster pace, the down time waiting for the rest of the class brings boredom sometimes.

Hearing people explain why they think an incorrect answer is correct usually just confuses me.

I think the clicker questions aren’t hard enough. I would like to see them involve more challenging questions or problem.

My group doesn’t really discuss all that much.

Sometimes class can get tedious. Solving more equations in class would help retain that knowledge more.

They learning quizzes are not helpful, just stressful.

Sometimes there are long gaps that seem to appear when one group finishes and has to wait on other groups to finish up.

Not a big fan of in class experiments. Seem to take a lot of time. I understand that some people are able to better grasp things that way.

The boards and class discussion help a lot, hearing ideas and helping each other out.

Class is just too long. And sometimes we have to wait for other groups to finish.

Anything Else you Want to Tell me?

I honestly hate reassessment quizzes But! I get why we do them.

I need to come to office hours more. The one time I came it was very helpful.

The reading quizzes online aren’t a huge help to me. They do make me skim the reading more than usual, but I get more from class.

Reading quizzes, because I often don’t understand the reading before class.

I wish we would go over 3+ problems together that we would likely see on the exams more often! Give more examples and break them down more.

I’m not sure that I can get the formulas but I know some people who do. I would like more “this is why” because I’m having a hard time executing.

I’m going to have to work harder, a lot harder. I’ll have to become better with my time management even with everything that’s going on.


What Brian is thinking:

  • Online Quizzes: I may be willing to drop or revise my online pre-class quizzes. I’m actually thinking of changing it to just, “Tell me about one thing you learned from the reading that makes sense to you.” “Tell me about some of the ideas from the reading that you have questions about or feel confused about. Be as specific as possible.”
  • Finishing Early / Down Time: I want to chat with students about things they can do when they finish before other groups. They have group projects starting up, so they can use that time to chat about that. I could also do a better of job of monitoring time, and having extension questions ready.
  • Step-by-Step: In emphasizing reasoning and concepts, I do sometimes de-emphasize some aspect of procedures for tackling problems. I’m better at this than I was, but I still have room for improvement.
  • Lab Write-ups: I need to better communicate lab write-up procedures, align what I say with our new lab book (things have changed this semester, and I’m sometimes communicating things accidentally based on old expectations), and I also need to work to minimize the amount of bullshit that’s required from the lab white still emphasizing the key skills they do need.

2 thoughts on “Mid-Semester Feedback in Physics

Add yours

  1. I so appreciate you posting this! Whenever I ask for class feedback, I get worked up about any little constructive criticism, but that’s the only way to make any progress.

    “Sometimes there are long gaps that seem to appear when one group finishes and has to wait on other groups to finish up.” –> This is something I struggle with too, and would love to hear what others do to minimize this issue. I like your idea of having them start on their group project. Can I ask what that project will be?

    Also, I hope you do a post about how to “minimize the bullshit” in lab write-ups. I have to do a certain number of formal lab write-ups using the department’s agreed-upon template and I want to make sure it’s not busywork for the students!

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