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In our courses, we supplement whole class lecture sessions with a variety of timetabled workshop / tutorial / example class sessions. All courses require additional study outside formal classes, usually centered around solving problems associated with the current section of the course. We know next to nothing about what students do during these out of class sessions. Do they work along? Together? Do self-study networks persist over time?
This talk describes work that seeks to shed light on patterns of informal group study amongst Physics students, investigating what these informal sessions are used for and how this changes over time and across different levels of the programme.
We describe different attempts to gather representative data from all students across our physics programmes, at multiple points during the year. Data that was collected from students captured demographic data (gender, degree intention etc) along with details of peers with whom a particular survey responder had interacted in the past two weeks. This was used to construct network graph plots of interactions, which revealed little if any inter-year interactions. In first year, a significant quantity of network interactions involved members outwith the physics class, possibly even outwith the university. We also present analysis that correlates network membership and ‘connectedness’ with end of course performance.