Dec 13 – 16, 2021
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The real medical situation for Physics teaching

Dec 16, 2021, 11:20 AM
Zoom ID: 701 110 5119, Passcode: 12345 (Zoom 3)

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Presentations in Wroclaw 12. University Physics: research and good practices Parallel 10 - Wroclaw


Prof. Oriana Fiore (Università di Salerno) Oriana FIOREProf. Roberto Capone (Università di Salerno)


In Italy, there is a module on Applied Physics for the obstetric degree course, including fundamental Physics features: from the theory of measurement to the waves. Here, we propose the planning of a 12-hours module focusing on the Physics of childbirth. Each lesson starts with an engaging, so that students may be involved in a real medical situation, focused on birth. Suddenly, they may explore it and, finally, in the explain phase, main Physics topics related to the proposed situation are discussed and deepened.
1 Introduction
This paper describes a didactic experiment carried out with 60 university students attending the first year of Faculty of Obstetrics of the University of Salerno.Typically, in Italy, the study of Physics is planned in all medical faculties. In Obstetrics, the timing for Physics teaching usually ranges from 12 to 20 hours. The teaching design of the Physics module usually includes the following topics: measurement theory, kinematics, dynamics of material points and extended bodies, fluid dynamics, thermodynamics, waves, and electromagnetism. Methodologically, the subjects are proposed according to a waterfall progression following the schedule by the most typical textbooks, using frontal lessons, due to the program's size compared to the small number of hours. The exam students’results of the last three years, highligt the students’ difficulties in dealing with so many topics. Moreover, some students believe Physics topics aren’t helpful for their future work. Thus, it was thought to redesign a 12-hours Physics module for the Faculty of Obstetrics, using an active methodology, such as Inquiry [1] in blended mode. The Inquiry includes a situated learning, as a learning in a specific context. Each lesson, lasting about 3 hours, includes the experimentation of some Inquiry phases. In particular, Engage and Explain are present in each meeting, while in 2 sessions, an Explore phase has also been designed. The Extend is carried out for each meeting by sharing multimedia material on a specific platform. On the other hand, the Evaluate consists of the final test. The Inquiry aims to motivate students to study Physics, using real situations in the medical environment, thus trying to decrease the gap between academic culture and real life. The Situated Learning model [2] provides the theoretical framework for the experimentation.
2 Situated learning: from idealized model to real physical situation
Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger [2] proposed the term "situated learning" as a model of learning that takes place in a "community of practice". They argue that learning should not be considered simply as the transmission of abstract and decontextualized knowledge from one individual to another, but as a social process in which knowledge is co-constructed, suggesting that such learning is situated in a specific context and integrated within a particular social and physical environment.
Such approaches' main idea consists of contextualizing subject material because "pure" science is an abstract topic often incompatible with everyday life. It is also permitted that students move from the traditional system of learning to problem-solving. Because of using such a strategy, one can observe growth in students' motivation. The nature of situated learning comes from situated cognition, which accentuates the context in which something is learned, so knowledge forms the part of activity, culture, and life.
3 The activities: blended online and in class-format
The Physics module focuses on the 'Physics of childbirth'. Starting from some real situations concerning the period of gestation and the moment of the birthing, it is possible to connect some of the related Physics topics. For istance, blood test reading can be the starting point for the study of measurement units and errors. Furthermore, the principles of dynamics could be used for a better comprehension of the chidbirth. Nevertheless, the reading of an ultrasound scan can be the starting point for a lesson on waves and some elements of electromagnetism.
The teaching has been “blended” based on the integration of frontal lessons, Peer Discussion and E-learning, also carried out using the educational platform.
4 Research Methodology
A multimethod methodology collects research data by analyzing the answers to a questionnaire given to students based on the Likert scale [3] and open-ended questions. The questions are aimed to investigate the parameters of students' engagement, motivation, and participation [4]. The comparison between the final exam results with those of the students of the previous two years completes the quantitative analysis of the research data.
5 Conclusion
Here we planned and experimented a Physics module for 60 Obstetrics students, based on an active methodology, the Inquiry, mainly higlightning the relevance of the situated learning in a medical environment. The thread was the Physics of childbirth”. Since the analysis of the protocols, the students feels more confident with Physics and they wondered that some Physics topics are so much fundamental in their future work field.


[1] Abdi, A. (2014). The Effect of Inquiry-Based Learning Method on Students' Academic Achievement in Science Course. Universal journal of educational Research, 2(1), 37-41.
[2] Lave, J., Wenger, E., Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation, 1st Ed. (Cambridge University Press, 1991).
[3] Likert, R. (1932). A technique for the measurement of attitudes. Archives of Psychology.
[4] Capone, R., & Lepore, M. (2021). From Distance Learning to Integrated Digital Learning: A Fuzzy Cognitive Analysis Focused on Engagement, Motivation, and Participation During COVID-19 Pandemic. Technology, Knowledge and Learning, 1-31.

Primary author

Prof. Oriana Fiore (Università di Salerno)


Prof. Maria Giuseppina Adesso (L. S. "Da Procida" Salerno) Prof. Roberto Capone (Università di Salerno)

Presentation materials