Physics3D – an inclusive learning project

Tuesday 21st May 2019, 12.30pm to 2.00pm

Speakers: Dr Emily Brunsden, Lecturer, Department of Physics
Location: Room P/T/111, Physics library reading room, Campus West

Workshop Summary

Inclusivity is actively including people, fostering a sense of belonging, empowering those with different backgrounds and removing barriers. Microchanges to teaching practice can help dramatically with the above. Emily will describe the Physics3D project which takes difficult 3D concepts in their physics programme and develops these in to 3D printed physical models and accompanying digital resources. This allows our students further avenues of interaction with key physics concepts, even those with visual impairment. In the workshop Emily will outline the project design and the progress that Physics have made to date as well as future ambitions to make our Physics degree learning more inclusive.

Report

Dr Emily Brunsden presenting the Learning and Teaching Forum workshop
Dr Emily Brunsden presenting the Learning and Teaching Forum workshop

Emily led an excellent workshop on Inclusivity in Teaching and Learning and spoke about the initiatives she has used as part of her teaching practice to make teaching more inclusive in the Department of Physics. Emily also provided examples of inclusive practice that can be applied to a range of other disciplines.

Emily first defined the concept of Inclusivity as ‘actively including people, fostering a sense of belonging, empowering those with different backgrounds and removing barriers.’ Emily introduced the workshop attendees to the 3 principles of Universal Design for Learning, an educational framework approach for improving the quality of education for all learners.

The 3 principles are Recognition, Strategic and Affective. Recognition involves making fundamental content accessible for all and presenting information in different formats and styles. A good example would be providing content in accessible documents. Strategic involves ensuring that assessment approaches are realistic and flexible. A good example would be offering oral and written assessment options for a student to demonstrate their knowledge and skills. The Affective principle is concerned with student engagement and motivating all students to learn. Emily showed that just small changes to teaching practice can help make teaching and learning more inclusive and be of benefit to all students. She provided examples from her own teaching practice:

1. Recordings

In addition to using Lecture Capture, where the computer screen is recorded during a lecture, Emily spoke about Board Capture used to capture the traditional blackboard for teaching in the Maths and Physics Departments at The University of York. As the teacher works through examples on the blackboard, pressure sensors on the floor underneath the blackboard detect this movement and the cameras record the blackboard.

2. Verbal descriptions

Emily also spoke about using verbal descriptions of a visual image or graph during a lecture such as ‘This is a graph of…, On the x axis is… and on the y axis is…’ Emily mentioned that this practice has been of benefit to all of the students in her cohort- not just for a few.

3. Resources

Emily explained the importance of providing resources in inclusive formats and making them accessible to screen readers for students with visual impairments. She also highlighted the good practice of providing module materials on the VLE 48 hours in advance of a teaching session.

4. 3D Printed resources

Using funding from a Rapid Response Grant, Emily and a student intern created 3D printed resources to help explain complex concepts for teaching and learning activities in the Department of Physics.

A relief model of the Earth, wave propagation through barriers and a pressure-volume-temperature diagram printed on the low-resolution and high-resolution printer

A relief model of the Earth, wave propagation through barriers and a pressure-volume-temperature diagram printed on the low-resolution and high-resolution printer

The nuclear binding energy chart in stages of development and a visualization of a crystal lattice

The nuclear binding energy chart in stages of development and a visualization of a crystal lattice

There is a publicly accessible repository of 3D printed models and accompanying digital resources at sketchfab

Emily also told us about the Tactile Universe project to make Astronomy research accessible to the blind and vision impaired community.

5. Building relationships in large classes

Emily uses Mentimeter Live Polling to engage all students during her lectures. She also uses a number of tips to build relationships in large classes:

Some of the tips recommended by Dr Emily Brunsden to help build relationships in large classes including using students who you know, chatting with the front row of students, having an awareness of different backgrounds, challenging bias and acknowledging diversity.
Some of the tips recommended by Dr Emily Brunsden to help build relationships in large classes including using students who you know, chatting with the front row of students, having an awareness of different backgrounds, challenging bias and acknowledging diversity

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