IOP Satellite Meeting on Higher Education

On Wednesday August 18th 2021 Dr Matthew Booth and myself attended a short IOP Higher Education Group Meeting on “What is Meaningful Assessment in Physics?” which was a satellite meeting of the larger education conference ViCEPHEC21 .

The meeting was very exciting, with discussions ranging from the role of timed examinations and avoiding collusion in a time of Covid, to the clarity of assessments and novel ways of engaging students.

We were given the opportunity to present our ideas about assessment writing strategies to bypass misconceptions.

In short, misconceptions are usually defined as deeply rooted beliefs which contradict expected ‘scientific facts’ in a learning or assessment environment (if you would like to ‘diagnose’ yourself there is a website for it from the IOP). For 30 years the strategy has been to identify these beliefs and try to replace them with ‘correct ones’.

For better or worse this strategy does not seem to have borne fruits and various polls and surveys show that people of all age and all education backgrounds (even in STEM) keep their misconceptions.

In somewhat opposition to a misconception-based pedagogy, Dr Booth and myself think that the problem may come from the teaching and assessment strategies in STEM which unnecessarily tap into people’s beliefs. We therefore recommend ways to evaluate students about physics without seeking to probe (let alone alter) students’ personal beliefs about aspects which are irrelevant to the Learning Outcomes.

No question this is going to bring forth some interesting debates about the role of physics teaching and the role and duties of educators in general.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.