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University teaching in the UK stands at the threshold of major change, as the recommendations of the National Committee of Inquiry into Higher Education (Dearing Report 1997) work their way through the higher education (HE) system. In physics, the focus on student learning through flexible differentiated learning had already been given a boost in September 1995, with the establishment of the Flexible Learning Approach to Physics ( FLAP ). This extensive teaching resource was developed over three years by the University of Reading and The Open University as a consortium project on behalf of the HE sector. It was funded by the four UK Higher Education Funding Councils, through the Teaching and Learning Technology (TLTP) initiative. FLAP is a high quality supported self-study resource covering first year and foundation year physics and its associated mathematics. It allows physics departments to create courses of their own design and specification quickly as they respond to a diversifying and changing intake. It is now two years since the launch of FLAP and it is timely to reflect on the lessons that have been learned. This article describes the FLAP resource in some detail and reports its implementation and evaluation at the University of Reading. Evaluation shows that FLAP delivers many of the expected benefits, with significant gains in the quality and effectiveness of teaching and learning. Many of the criteria for quality improvements upheld in the Dearing Report are encouraged and supported through the use of FLAP.
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