Innovative teaching tool developed at Imperial

To help others understand complex concepts Imperial students have helped in developing a set of visualizations.

Innovative Teaching Tool Developed At Imperial
Image: Imperial College London

One of the most challenging things about teaching Physics was bringing to life abstract concepts, had noticed by Dr Caroline Clewley, a Senior Teaching Fellow in Imperial’s Department of Physics. Considering the need for new ways to learn, this project is funded by Imperial’s dedicated learning and teaching innovation fund.

She said, “Interactive visualizations can enhance conceptual understanding – but they need to be well designed and aligned with learning objectives, and none of the existing visualizations I found fitted with our topics.”

Online visualizations are versatile teaching tool which can be used during lectures to explain difficult concepts, paired with a problem sheet for tutorials or coursework, or shared to allow students to explore concepts in preparation for teaching sessions.

Robert King, an undergraduate student in the Department of Physics, was one of the teams working on the project, said, “As I had just finished the first year myself, I felt I had a good idea of the areas that could be supplemented by a visualization. We also spoke to the individual course lecturers to get their feedback on areas of the course that they felt could use a visualization and that would enhance their course.”

“The project was the first time I had done coding in a large team. It was also a new experience collaborating with people from different departments who each brought something new to the table.”

The team had created over 20 visualizations, covering a range of topics from linear algebra to electromagnetism in their final phase of the project. Most of the visualizations are accessible online, and Dr. Clewley is now trialing the visualizations in various learning settings.

According to Dr. Clewley, to help students understand the mathematical concepts that underpin their subjects, this potential can be used for similar visualizations in engineering and medicine.

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