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Program Information

Project-Based Learning - Expanding Course Content with a Broad-Scope Project


R Howell

R Howell*, S Kry, U Titt, University of Texas at MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX

MO-F-134-2 Monday 4:30PM - 6:00PM Room: 134

Purpose: We set out to revise/improve the Radiation Detection Instrumentation and Data Analysis course at our institution due to negative student evaluations of this course. Initially, we began with changes to the syllabus, adding important topics that were not being covered and expanding the teaching faculty to include board-certified physicists with practical clinical experience. Although this led to improved student course evaluations compared to the previous years, we were still not satisfied that enough material was being covered in the course. Because the time in the semester was limited, we considered alternative teaching methodologies in an effort to broaden the scope of the course.

Methods:We implemented project-based learning because it allowed us to keep instructor-led lectures, which provide the students with fundamental knowledge that we believe essential for a core course. We also expanded the breadth of the topics covered in the course through assignment of a class project. The class project broadly aims to provide opportunities for each group of students to investigate meaningful real-world topics related to radiation detection in medical physics. For this assignment, the students assume the role of director of the medical physics radiation therapy department at a comprehensive cancer treatment center and are asked to develop a capital equipment list of detectors and associated equipment to perform all necessary QA for this department. They are expected to submit a detailed report and give a presentation to the class.

Results:The class project was first assigned in 2010 and has been required every year since. The project has increased the breadth of the course and student course evaluations have improved (82% positive compared to 36% positive).

Conclusion:Overall, our students are learning more material in the revamped course and are exposed to one of the many facets of a career in clinical medical physics.

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