Physicists from Latin America, working as part of a MAZUR team at Harvard University, have come to Ireland to showcase their research in learning and teaching methodologies at The Helix in DCU. The three Ecuadorian academics, led by Florencio Pinela-Contreras, have conducted lengthy evidence-based studies which prove that a flipped teacher-learner experience in the classroom is conducive to a deeper and more retention-focused learning experience. Pinela-Contreras, Oswaldo Valle, and Eduardo Montero promote new methods of student collaboration and input – emphasising presentation skills and encouraging communication from undergraduates, rather than use of the more traditional professor-to-student lecturing – and the system of education has been extremely well received at an event themed “Bridging Research and Practice in Physics Teaching and Learning”.

The conference, hosted by the Centre for the Advancement of Science and Mathematics Teaching and Learning at Dublin City University (DCU), Ireland, was jointly organised by three bodies of European and international dimension whose primary goals include the teaching of Physics and Applied Physics.

Marisa Michelini, of the Department of the MA University of Udine, who sits on and chairs some of the round table discussions at the event, spoke with Katherine Salvador for Yeah! Ecuador about the conference’s participants.

I have to say that one of these contributions is very good. This contribution shows how the teaching at university level has changed and how this work is carried out by means of a lot of evaluation over the course duration or work itself, and an assessment which is also absolutely evidence-based.

I am happy to see that many colleagues start to apply active learning methods in different ways and in different countries. From Mexico to Colombia, via many many contributions, I was able to appreciate what was being undertaken now in the field.

But the main change is from Ecuador [ESPOL] University. I was able to see that a complete change is being undertaken for high-level teaching and learning methods, and research based qualifications.

OswFloThe new methodologies, for maths and physics, promote far more communication and input from the students. Florencio Pinela Contreras has led the research by the team, and his session in the conference programme – “Peer Project Learning and Perusal Tool in flipped classroom for Physics” – was highly regarded given the results that have been achieved. But do students consider these changes a better means of education? Marisa Michelini continues:

Opinions are not relevant because students will say “These methods are not good. We don’t like these methods of learning” because they are accustomed to learning and working in another way. But when the students have experience of these new methods, they recognise that they learn a lot, and in different ways. This method is not a question of opinion, but data collected by research gives evidence that this way of working is the best method. It was a great effort by ESPOL University who undertook these studies in Ecuador, to show that it makes sense.

The conference, organised by the Conference of International Research Group on Physics Teaching (GIREP), the European Physical Society’s Physics Education Division (EPS PED) and the International Conference on Physics Education (ICPE) of the Commission C14 of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP), draws to a close on Friday July 7th 2017.