Exploratorials are designed to:
Usually they will include:
Are Exploratorials compulsory?
Yes! Exploratorials are compulsory and will be assessed. If you are ill and miss an exploratorial you must present a doctor's certificate as soon as you return to University or you will miss out on the marks for that exploratorial.
How do I do an exploratorial?
The exploratorial consists of 3 parts: Prework, Class work and Postwork.
2. Class Work
Do I have to do the prework and postwork by myself?
Yes, everyone has to submit their own prework and postwork, and it must be your own work.
However, you may discuss the prework and postwork with other students.
The prework and postwork activities are mostly web-based. We are very happy for you to work in groups to discuss these activities because many people learn most effectively when they work in this way. People who are struggling with concepts often find that an explanation from a friend can provide that extra bit of understanding needed to grasp a concept. For those who are mostly "getting it", the best way to really learn something is to teach it to someone else - it forces you to clarify the concept in your mind and leads to much deeper understanding. So, everyone wins.
BUT (and there is always a but)
Why exploratorials (or, how do we learn things)?
For those of you who are not into reading about the theory of learning - take my word for it, participating enthusiastically in the exploratorials will help you both learn physics and pass the exam.
For those of you who are interested, read on to find out why.
How do we learn?
We don't know the exact answer to this, and different people learn in different ways, but there are some things that can make learning more effective.
We have all had the experience of sitting in a lecture and feeling that we have understood every word, and yet later finding that we can't remember what was said, or that we can't do the tutorial problems despite our brilliant understanding of what was said in the lecture.
There are two reasons for this, both of which are addressed by the exploratorials.
Firstly, the more times we see a concept the deeper it is etched in our memory. If we only see something once, although we may understand it well when we first come across it, the concept will not become part of our "long-term" memory unless we see it again, and pretty quickly. Our teachers at school understand this, and after they introduce a concept they will get us to do problems in class, and also set us homework questions involving the same concept. At university we have to take the responsibility for transferring lecture material into our long-term memory on ourselves, by revising lecture material and doing problems associated with the material. The exploratorials help you to do this. In doing the prework, the class work and the postwork, you are seeing the same material many times, and are transferring it to your long-term memory.
Secondly, to really learn something and be able to apply your new learing to solving problems you need to place it into the context of what you already know - you need to link the new knowledge to what you already know about how things work. The exploratorials assist you to do this by using practical activities to link the esoteric concepts you learn in the lecture theatre to your knowledge of how the real Universe works - the one you live in every day and experience intimately.