Training more Socially-Conscious Physicists using Undergraduate Discussion Groups based around YouTube videos

Laura K. McKemmish, Rebecca L Coates, Frazina S Botelho, Harriet L Robertson, Gavin W Leong


This is a research article supported by a video. To read the article, please click on the pdf, to play the video, click on the link at the bottom of this page.

Physics students today need to learn about being a scientist, not just about science. They need to be exposed to, consider, discuss and debate the complex social and professional issues that go along with being a working scientist in the twenty-?rst century. The traditional physics training structure of lectures, laboratory sessions and problem-solving-focused workshops and/or tutorials does not allow this training to occur in any formal way. In this paper, we describe and analyse a new discussion-class format, based upon YouTube videos and similar in spirit to the tutorials so prevalent in the humanities. This format was extremely successful in stimulating a lively and thoughtful discussion between students on oft-neglected issues such as gender representation in physics and trust in experts. Students actively thought about these issues, articulated their viewpoints, considered the viewpoints of others and debated the issues.

Here, we analyse transcriptions of the discussion groups and observations from the classes to explore the reasons for the success of this model and how it can be expanded to encourage physicists to explore and develop their own views on the range of social and professional challenges they are likely to experience as working physicists, including environmental concerns, the relationship between media and science and even the in?uence on science of Brexit. We use a novel multimedia format here to present the results of this research, including both a traditional written report which incorporates analysis of the discussion group sessions themselves and a video presentation.


Physics; Education; Socioscientific

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