Partner work in teaching physics using a learner-centered approach

Traditional teaching from a teacher centered approach is shifting to a modern teaching using a learner centered approach. Here the active involvement of students is an important issue.
Teaching physics, I tried to bring students to active learning, being active parts in the learning and not passive consumers of the teacher’s presentation, explanations and physical test and lab experiments. I found out that for many students it seems to be difficult to develop skills to be actively involved in the teaching process.

Experience in teaching Physics

As the subject “Physics” enforces a competence based approach to learning and finally should bring the students to specific skills and knowledge to understand and explain background processes and to analyze facts and items of everyday life from a physical (and scientific) point of view I enhanced students’ involvement in teaching.
Aston (1997) and others mentioned that positive group experience are relevant and in context to student learning, retention and learning success. This is also a mentioned issue in online learning (Roberts, 2004). Nevertheless, I got the feeling that student don’t like these group experience so much. The joint creation of some learning outcome, based on self-experience and development in small groups brought the expected results. On the other hand, students hinted at their refusal of regularly done joint group work.

Asking students

How do students appreciate group work of two?

Therefore, I asked the students about their opinion using a survey. The sample covered 75 students from the target group. I used a token-based tool to anonymize the survey but to be able to control the feedback. Applying this settings, I got a feedback of 92 % within three weeks.
The result was astonishing but in the frame of the expectations. Approx. 41 % did not agree to group work or did totally disagree to use this during lessons. In a focus group I analyzed their intention and found out that many of them think that group work is less efficient as the teacher’s presentation, needs more time and creates a lower level of knowledge. As a positive factor they stated that everything done on their own will build a more intensive learning experience and therefor easier to be reflected or to be reminded for them.

The other 59 percent appreciated more or less the group work, especially done in groups of two with a selected partner (normally the best friend).

(c) Peter Mazohl (2016)


, A. (1993). What matters in college? Four critical years revisited. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Roberts, Tim S. (2004): Online collaborative learning. Theory and practice. Hershey PA: Information Science Pub.


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