Using Student-Produced Learning content for Physics 100 and Physics 101

TitleUsing Student-Produced Learning content for Physics 100 and Physics 101
Duration2 Year
Project Summary

Though this project we developed a pedagogical framework for using student-produced learning content extensively within flipped-classroom courses, together with processes to evaluate and curate this content and trial it in a several sections of large-enrollment introductory courses in Physics (close to 1,000 students). Each week approximately 1/4 of the students each produced a learning object of their choice that pertained to the pre-reading material set for the whole class. These learning objects could be artifacts such as a worked example, a clicker question (and explanation), a media-cast or other type of artifact. The students were supported by course staff (instructor, TAs & undergraduates who had recently completed the course) who held an after-hours virtual tutorial. The learning objects that the students produced were submitted through the UBC WordPress instance by the end of the weekly course cycle, and graded by a course TA using a simple rubric (e.g. does not meet / meets / exceeds expectations). Instructors were able to incorporate the best student produced learning objects into the class sessions that followed their creation, using a Just-In-Time-Teaching approach. The project intended to enhance student learning by encouraging self-direction, peer learning, and deep engagement with the subject material, and to further shift the dynamic of the class beyond a flipped classroom approach towards a genuine learning community in which all students participate and contribute.

Funding Details
Year 1: Project YearYear 1
Year 1: Funding Year2013/2014
Year 1: Project TypeLarge TLEF
Year 1: Principal InvestigatorDoug Bonn
Year 1: Funded Amount38,153
Year 1: Team Members

Doug Bonn, Professor, Physics and Astronomy
Simon Bates, Professor of Teaching, Physics and Astronomy / Director, Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology
Firas Moosvi, Graduate Teaching Assistant, Physics and Astronomy

Project ReportReport-2013-FL-Bonn-WEB.pdf
Project Outcomes

Products & achievements: Platform for submitting, rating and curating learning objects, built on the UBC WordPress installation, used for this project but framework also available for other adoptions; approximately 1000 student generated learning objects in that system.

Intended outcomes/themes:

  • Student freedom to synthesize their knowledge using any medium they were comfortable with to explain the concept to others, as part of the summative assessment components within the course.
  • Student exposure to highly creative learning objects with a very high educational value. This offered them a chance to supplement their learning.
  • Course credit for a highly intellectually stimulating task deployed as an effort based project.
  • Instructor gain of deeper insight into which concepts were confusing or challenging for students, and how they decided to clarify their own confusions. Some of that information will be used to support students in future iterations of the course and materials used to revise / refresh courses.

Evaluation approach: The two main evaluation strategies for this project were to assess student benefit from learning objects and to assess the quality of the learning objects. For the former, survey data was collected at the submission point for every learning object. Survey questions asked students about the process of producing their learning objects and the ways in which engaging in that activity had changed their understanding of course concepts and topics. Because the learning object survey data was self-reported, we expect some bias in the results. We also calculated learning object submission activity by through analytics. The learning objects were assessed based on a rubric and the quality ranged from poor to excellent or well beyond expectations.

Findings: From the data, we can conclude that (a) students were indeed choosing to create learning objects on topics that they initially experienced some difficulties and challenges in understanding and (b) self-reported understanding increased (by approximately two standard deviations) after creating the learning objects. Participation from students was slightly below expectation (likely because the course weight for each learning object was reduced from 2.5% to 1.5%).

Quality was much better than expected as students really used the activity to their advantage. In fact, the quality of the best learning object submissions over the past two years is such that they can be directly incorporated into course materials (lecture notes, supplementary online resources, and some of them as part of midterm and final exam questions.). There is a sufficient number of these to be able to use a portion each year in rotation.

Through this project we also gained a lot of insight into the motivation for students to do the assignments that are not midterms of finals, especially when they are given some choice over the nature of the assessment and the medium in which to create it. We can use the research here to guide design for assessment flexibility in other courses.


  1. Talk at STLHE 2014, Queen’s University.
  2. Upcoming paper to be submitted to Physics Education Research Conference (PERC) as part of AAPT annual conference meeting.

Sustainability: The learning objects are all stored on the UBC blogs server so sustaining these resources over time should have a very low footprint. The largest challenge will be curation if the learning object repository is added to over the years as it takes a fair bit of time to separate the best learning objects. As the repository grows, it will require a small amount of ongoing effort to keep the best ones surfaced. Strong interest from BIOL 201 Instructor to implement learning objects in future sessions has been expressed.