Case-based learning in Physics
Henry Yam S S Tong
Department of Physics /
Centre for Promoting Science Education,
CUHK
What I want to share with you….
S S Tong CUPHY
• I only have little knowledge on the case-based learning
method
• But I see this method has the potential of helping
students develop a balanced personality, and good
relations with oneself, others and the society
• Just to share with you the physics cases we developed….
• Not quite sure if they are practical or not….
• Eager to listen to your comments…. and your sharing on
teaching experience, implementation problems….
What I learnt in counseling lessons….
S S Tong CUPHY
• Virginia Satir (1916-1988) - model on commuication
• Communicate with oneself, others and environment
Self
Others
Environment
(external world)
S S Tong CUPHY
So what causes commuication problems?
• People always blaming others….
Self
Others
Environment
(external world)
I am always right
I don't care about others
and the world
S S Tong CUPHY
So what causes commuication problems?
• People always pleasing others….
You are always right
I don't care about myself
and the world
Self
Others
Environment
(external world)
S S Tong CUPHY
So what causes commuication problems?
• People relying too much on facts and analysis….
I only care about
analysis, I don't care
about myself and others
Self
Others
Environment
(external world)
S S Tong CUPHY
Making wise decisions in the real world….
• People know how to communicate with oneself, others &
environment. Healthy communications, wise decisions
I am happy
Self
Others
Environment
(external world)
S S Tong CUPHY
Case method: help people make decisions?
• Example case in physics: Introduction of flameless
cooking to a traditional restaurant
• Save energy and money
• Less heat and safer in kitchen (physics of heat transfer
and EM induction)
• Need investment, renovation
• Old chefs (most) don't like it, new chefs (two) like it
• Owners happy (save money)
• Customers not happy? (food quality affected?)
S S Tong CUPHY
Considering oneself, others, and environment
How do I feel?
My job, my position?
Self
Others
Owners
General Manager
New chefs
Old chefs
Customers
Environment
(external world)
Save energy and money
Less heat and safer (Physics of heat & EM)
Investment, renovation
Food quality
S S Tong CUPHY
Characteristics of case solutions
• Case has no perfect solution
• But analysis and science knowledge do help
• Involve emotion of people (e.g. owners, manager, chefs
and customers) – difficult to quantify
• Open-ended, i.e. has more than one solutions
• Real solution may emerge from the combination of
several solutions (e.g. use electricity for steamers, retain
traditional gas cooking for woks)
– let students know what actually happens - writing an authentic
case is useful
Skills to learn….
S S Tong CUPHY
• Learn skills to
– gain a holistic and balanced view of the situation
– cope with other people and take suitable measures
• Skills trained in the case-method:
– Analytical skills
– Decision making skills
– Application skills: presentation, PowerPoint, report
writing
Learning with Cases
– Time management skills
2nd edition
Louise A. Mauffette– Interpersonal or social skills
Leenders etal.
Ivey Publishing
S S Tong CUPHY
Processes to acquire the skills in case method
• Individual
learning and
discussions
Learning with Cases
2nd edition
Louise A. MauffetteLeenders etal.
Ivey Publishing
S S Tong CUPHY
Example Physics Cases
The chef cannot see the flame: Flameless
cooking in restaurant
Solar Energy in Kadoorie Farm and
Botanic Garden
Henry Yam CUPHY
Flameless cooking in restaurant: Case idea
• For students to face a real-life physics related tasks:
– The impact of new technology in old establishment
• New technology:
– Flameless cooking equipment
• Old establishment:
– Traditional restaurant
• Students role-play as employees of restaurant
• Students have to present a course of action to employer
Henry Yam CUPHY
Doing the case
• Individual
preparation
• Small group
discussion
• Production
• Presentation
• Large group
discussion
Henry Yam CUPHY
Individual preparation
• Done in class under teacher supervision
• 20 minutes
• Preparation for Small group discussion
• Students required to find out at least
– Who are involved
– What is the challenge
– How to present
– When to finish
Henry Yam CUPHY
Small group discussion
• Continuation of Individual preparation
• 4-6 students each group
• 30-40 minutes
• Students discuss possible solutions
Henry Yam CUPHY
Small group discussion
• Aim to facilitate learning from each other
• Teacher visits each group to gauge progress
• Students hand in achievement of discussion
• Students continue discussion after class
– learn interpersonal and social skill
– learn time management skill
– learn decision making skills
Henry Yam CUPHY
Production
• PowerPoint presentation and written report
• Prepare during non-lesson time
• Assume target audience are General Manager and
owners of restaurant
• Special requirements
– explain flameless and induction cooking (physics)
– use graphs and charts (data analysis and presentation)
Henry Yam CUPHY
Presentation
• 5-8 minutes presentation + 2-5 minutes Q&A = 10
minutes for each group
– learn application skill
– learn oral communication skill
• Teacher role-plays General Manager, other students roleplay owners to ask questions
• Questions to probe understanding, especially to passive
students
– e.g. Can kitchen power supply handle the change?
Henry Yam CUPHY
Large group discussion
• Students no longer are employees
– Discuss solutions put forward
• Issues when introducing new technology
– Human issues: Is the new technology good or bad to
the chefs?
– Technology issues: Does the technology work?
– Society issues: Impact of energy saving
– Pitfalls: Will the food taste different?
Henry Yam CUPHY
Assessment
• Students know the Assessment guidelines
• Assessment broken down into areas
• Encourage students to improve weak areas
• Reward students’ strong areas
Henry Yam CUPHY
Assessment
Needs
Improvement
Satisfactory
Good
Excellent
Understanding
the issue 5%
Understanding the
case clearly and
identifying key issues
to be tackled in order
to reach
recommendations
0-1%
2-3%
4%
5%
Calculation
and data 15%
Quoting data and
performing
calculations that are
accurate and relevant
0-3%
6-9%
12%
15%
Henry Yam CUPHY
Flexibility of case
• One crucial data can change whole case
– changing the rating of kitchen power supply
• Adjusting the data file changes the difficulty and relative
focus of the case
– Data file can be as simple as a neat table with all
relevant data included
– Or as complicated as a long leaflet with relevant
numerical data scattered between irrelevant data for
students to distinguish
Henry Yam CUPHY
Guidance to students
• Supplementary worksheet
– guidance on Individual preparation and Group
discussion
• Hints for students
– ask leading questions for students to follow the
analysis of the case step by step
Henry Yam CUPHY
Help for teachers
• Main possible solutions to the case are provided
– general main points of each solution
– the advantage of each solution
– the weakness of each solution
• Outline of the answer to all leading questions give
overall understanding of case
Need teachers’ precious input
Henry Yam CUPHY
• Implementation in Hong Kong classroom environment is
a challenge
• How to increase the dimension of the case
• Need teachers and educators’ experience and suggestions
on improving the case
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Case-based learning in Physics