Who knows better than Postgraduate Research students what the sticky points are in their doctoral learning? Who understands better than them what helped them “unstick” them? GRADnet had set itself the tough goals of improving the learning and understanding of physics doctoral researchers while building their self confidence and career readiness. Could E-learning help?
The team soon realised that they were surrounded by experts in doctoral researcher learning: the research students themselves. In Autumn 2014 we set a challenge for them based on peer-led learning principles. We asked GRADnet researchers to identify a bounded problem, a topic they had had initial difficulty getting to grips with during their studies, either in Physics or in a professional skill area. Those who persuaded us that they had a worthy topic as well as a good plan for tackling it in a way that would engage fellow researchers were invited to produce a learning module for their peers.
That first round produced some exciting material that is now available to all GRADnet researchers, while those who created it each won a useful prize as well as learning some further skills for their future careers.
We now have the student-led on-line learning modules available under the main Training page of the VRE:
- Getting started with LaTeX created by Rosh Sellehewa, University of Surrey and April Cridland, University of Sussex
- Mathematica for Physicists, created by Edward Hughes, Queen Mary University of London
- ModuleX: Quadrupole Ion Traps created by Ezra Kassa, University of Sussex
- The Publication Process created by Ilana Wisby, Royal Holloway University of London
- NMR Measurements on cement, based on the PhD theses of Agata Gajewicz (Surrey) and Arnaud Muller (EPF Lausanne)
- Plotting data using Matlab, Origin 8 and Gnuplot, created by Rosh Sellahewa and Vytas Astromskas, University of Surrey
- PhD Day 1: Thinking About Your Next Role, created by Michael Hodgson, University of Surrey
In 2015 we had a second call for proposals and the following modules were created:
- Geometrical methods for physicists, created by Ibere Kuntz and Christopher Fritz, University of Sussex
- Astro in Python- Practical notebooks, created by Christopher Lovell, University of Sussex
- An introduction to many body physics, created by Gonzalo Camacho, Univeristy of Kent
- A second course in string theory, created by Edward Hughes, Queen Mary University of London
A third call in 2016 resulted in two more modules:
- Virtual Observatory Tools for Astronomers, created by Justyn Campbell-White, University of Kent
- Clean Code: Best Practices in Programming, created by Shaun Geaney, Royal Holloway University of London
A VRE login is required to access the material.
In October 2017 there will be a call to invite more proposals from GRADnet’s doctoral researchers. Watch out for it on the VRE.