Evidence-Based Learning in Physics Laboratory

Brief Description

This project introduces evidence-based learning into physics related courses taught in the School of Computer and Mathematical Sciences (SCMS).

During 2012-2014, $100,000 was invested into physics equipment that was initially integrated into the School's Foundation Physics course for the Certificate of Science and Technology program at AUT's City and South campuses.  Following-on from theoretical lectures, small groups of students now engage in hands-on laboratory activities, called “explorations”, to test theories they are being introduced to. For example, after learning about kinematics, students measure the rate at which velocity changes for objects in free-fall to estimate free-fall acceleration using photo-gates interfaced to hand-held data acquisition computers. During each exploration, students document their activities in individual laboratory books which are maintained throughout the course to describe the hypotheses to be tested, equipment used and set-up, data collected, analysis, and conclusions reached.

The equipment supports explorations in kinematics, dynamics, thermodynamics, electricity, and optics, including spectroscopy. Four explorations have been tailored to the Foundation Physics course which have been regularly used since 2013. The equipment is also being used in degree courses in the School (Physics I & II) with plans to utilize some of the equipment in AUT's Astronomy degree program.

Team members

  1. Prof. Sergei Gulyaev (project co-leader)
  2. Tim Natusch
  3. Graham Bidois
  4. Dr Murray Black
  5. Jordan Alexander (project co-leader)


Supported by a $100,000 grant from the Institute for Radio Astronomy & Space Research (50%) and SCMS (50%).


Project co-leader: Jordan Alexander jordan.alexander@aut.ac.nz