Securing freshmen’s learning through a Physics refresher course: a breakthrough experience at Politecnico di Milano
Matteo Bozzi, Barbara Balossi, Laura Di Sieno, Lucia Ganzer, Paolo Gondoni, Immacolata Genco, Chloé Minnai, Andrea Pini, Filippo Rezoagli, Marta Zanoletti, Maurizio Zani
iCERi 2019, XII International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation (Seville – Spain)
Atti, 2237-2243 (2019) [ISBN 978-84-09-05948-5, ISSN 2340-1095] – doi 10.21125/iceri.2019.0610
Nowadays, an academic institution faces the challenge of a not negligible number of undergraduates who drop out. To organise welcome sessions for first-year students appears to be effective in increasing their persistence.
For several years Politecnico di Milano has provided a Physics refresher course to its new freshmen, which is part of a much broader pedagogical project consisting in offering a blended course which integrates this face-to-face activity with Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), delivered through Politecnico di Milano MOOCs portal. Held in September and ending before the beginning of the students’ academic programme, this two-week course focuses on classical Physics. Freshmen are arranged in different sections depending on their own free choice.
In the 2018 edition of this Physics refresher course an ad hoc multiple-choice test was administered to the participants through the online portal Socrative during the first lesson. Besides fostering a renewed interest in this discipline, this test was intended by us as a means that would enable the teacher to evaluate the students’ level of understanding rather than their knowledge in basic Physics and would allow for the freshmen’s self-assessment. Considering the positive results of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) strategy, the students were highly encouraged to use their own electronic devices to take the multiple-choice test.
In order to evaluate the effectiveness of the Physics refresher course, the students who got involved in the test and took the classes were monitored closely with relation to their findings in the undergraduate basic Physics course, which they attended during their first academic year. On the one hand, the average score achieved by these students is higher than the mark attained by the overall freshmen who attended a university Physics course at Politecnico di Milano. On the other hand, also their success rate is higher.
On balance, not only does the Physics refresher course appear to be effective in increasing the new freshmen initial level of knowledge in Physics, but at the same time it is likely to increase the attentiveness to this discipline.