A novel approach to online Physics refresher courses at Politecnico di Milano
Paolo Gondoni, Matteo Bozzi, Barbara Balossi, Gianmaria Calisesi, Edoardo Ferocino, Immacolata Genco, Lisa Marta Molteni, Andrea Pini, Filippo Rezoagli, Marta Zanoletti, Maurizio Zani
INTED 2021, XV International Technology, Education and Development Conference (Valencia – Spain)
Atti 1471-1475 (2021) [ISBN 978-84-09-27666-0, ISSN 2340-1079] – doi 10.21125/inted.2021.0336
Among the challenges that universities are facing nowadays, one that deserves special attention is the increasing number of dropouts. Refresher courses for perspective freshmen have regularly been organised at Politecnico di Milano over the last years as a means to tackle this issue. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the present situation posed serious limitations to traditional teaching methods this year, especially for long (3-4 hours) lectures which may be difficult to follow online.
In this paper we present a novel approach based on a blend of non-interactive conventional lectures in large groups and interactive lessons in smaller groups.
The course was delivered online using the Microsoft Teams software according to the following structure: first, a live video of a 1-hour lecture was streamed by a single tutor for the whole pool of approximately 1000 students. During this streaming, the students were not allowed to interact with the tutor or with one another by any means. Afterwards, 8 teams of students were formed and assigned to different tutors for the following three hours of more interactive lectures. Each tutor presented examples and exercises of their own choice (mainly on the same topic as the streamed video) and delivered guided solutions while promoting the interaction among students. Furthermore, a common set of short problems was given to each team: this activity could be performed at any time during the second part of the block, as decided by each tutor. In order to span among different teaching styles, the student teams were assigned to a different tutor every day for the interactive part of the lesson. As an additional resource, an online forum was activated on a dedicated website, which allowed students to ask questions on the course topics in an asynchronous way.
At the end of the course, every student was invited to fill in an anonymous survey to express their satisfaction with the course. The results of the survey indicate an overall degree of satisfaction with a mean rating over 75%.