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Physics laboratories, with their usual relaxed atmosphere combined with the exploratory nature of physics should help to create a student centred learning environment in which the students develop the necessary lab skills. However in reality most physics labs, especially in years 1 and 2, are recipe driven and the students follow a set of instructions from a manual which require no or minimal student exploration of the physics involved. The assessment methods also appear to be misaligned as they often only asses the product (report and logbooks) and not the desired learning outcomes of the module./p>

During this project we evaluated and re-aligned the learning outcomes, teaching and assessment methods for year 1 to 4 of the physics laboratory programmes. We found that although they were aligned on paper they were not aligned in practice. We developed a new suite of first year experiments which are more exploratory based and build the students’ skills so that they are able to work more independently by the end of the programme. A new first laboratory manual and corresponding tutor guide was also developed. In the higher years (2,3,4) of the laboratory programme we identified core competencies, developed new experiments, and assessment methods. The assessment methods are more closely aligned with the laboratory learning outcomes