program_wb_i - page 130

Wednesday morning
8:50-9 a.m. Integrating Practices and Core Ideas into
Introductory Physics Courses
Contributed – James T. Laverty, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI
The current curriculum in most introductory college physics classes
nationwide centers almost exclusively on content knowledge. Many recent
national publications have called for an integration of scientific practices
(e.g. Construct and Use Models) into the curriculum to teach students
the process of science as well. In the Physics and Astronomy Department
at Michigan State University, we are working with faculty to incorporate
practices into the introductory physics courses. As part of this process, we
are developing assessment items that integrate both the practices and core
ideas of introductory physics. These items are being used as a stepping
stone to develop curricular changes in the courses as well. This talk will
focus on this development process and its current status.
9-9:10 a.m. Project-based Learning to Foster Students’
Learning in Introductory Physics
Contributed – N. Sanjay Rebello, Kansas State University, Department of
Physics, Manhattan, KS 66506;
Dong-Hai Nguyen, Ho Chi Minh City University of Pedagogy
Thanh-Nga Nguyen, Vietnam University of Transportation
Huong-Tra Do, Hanoi University of Education
Project-based learning (PBL) is a model of teaching in which students learn
new knowledge and gain new skills by conducting learning projects that are
closely related to their career or to real life. This model has proved to have
positive effects in fostering students’ self-motivation, activeness, and creativ-
ity in learning; as well as in helping students relate classroom knowledge to
real life. At the University of Transportation (Vietnam) we conducted a study
in which 200 first-year students majoring in transportation engineering took
a course in calculus-based introductory physics in PBL format. Students
worked in groups of three or four on several projects related to their major.
We found that these students not only gained new physics knowledge and
team-work skills but also became more capable of applying those knowledge
and skills to real-life projects related to their major.
9:10-9:20 a.m. Adapting Upside-down Pedagogies for a
Hybrid Introductory Mechanics Studio
Contributed – Kristine E. Callan, Colorado School of Mines, Golden, CO
Alex Flournoy, Vince Kuo, Colorado School of Mines
At Colorado School of Mines, the calculus-based introductory mechanics
course has been taught using a hybrid lecture/studio model since 1997.
As part of our continued efforts to refine the course, we have recently
changed our pedagogy in an effort to further increase the level of interac-
tive engagement and make the course more streamlined and coherent. In
this current implementation, each topic is covered through a sequence
of: 1) concise pre-lecture readings—written in-house; 2) a 50-minute
lecture where concept questions and problem-solving examples are used
to model application— i.e., no content delivery; 3) a 110-minute studio
session where students collaborate in groups of three on experiments and
scaffolded problem solving tasks; and 4) a series of example and home-
work problems—mostly written in-house. We will present data from two
semesters of this pilot study, with ~1000 students taking the course during
this time span.
9:20-9:30 a.m. A Modern Physics Course Featuring
Theory, Computation, and Experimentation*
Contributed – Marie Lopez del Puerto, University of St. Thomas, 2115 Sum-
mit Ave., OWS 153, St. Paul, MN 55105;
The transition from lower-level to upper-level physics courses is difficult
for many students as the course material becomes more abstract and the
mathematics more sophisticated. At the same time, students need com-
putational skills such as plotting, fitting data, and modeling, as problems
become more complex. We describe the development of a sophomore-level
“Applications of Modern Physics” course that bridges the lower-level and
upper-level curriculum for electrical engineering and physics students. The
laboratory for the course is closely tied to the class and illustrates complex
concepts such as quantized energy levels and probabilities in classical and
quantum physics, following the theme of “particles in a box.” Laborato-
ries consist of tutorials using simulations, computational modeling using
MATLAB, and brief, illustrative experiments. Thus, the course features the
interplay between theory, computation, and experimentation that is central
to the advancement of scientific knowledge.
*Laboratory and curriculum development for this “Applications of Modern Physics”
course has been supported by the physics department and a grant from the Faculty
Development Center at the University of St. Thomas, as well as NSF-TUES grant
DUE-1140034, and MathWorks software and curriculum development grants.
9:30-9:40 a.m. How “First Day” Activities in Physics
Courses Generate Student Buy-In
Contributed – Jon D. H. Gaffney, Eastern Kentucky University, Richmond, KY
Jacob T. Whitaker, Eastern Kentucky University
The first day of class sets the stage for the rest of the semester by setting
expectations for the course. It is especially important to set those expecta-
tions in an active learning physics course because they are often quite
different than expectations students have upon entering the course. Some
faculty members have created activities specifically intended to generate
such shifts, but whether those activities succeed in generating student
buy-in may largely depend on how the activities are conducted. In this talk,
we will present a hypothesis based on two existing theoretical constructs:
instructor credibility and face threat mitigation. Together, those ideas de-
scribe one way that first day activities help generate a favorable classroom
climate. We will discuss one activity that is used in the Physics for Teachers
course at Eastern Kentucky University in terms of those constructs to
demonstrate the plausibility of our hypothesis.
9:40-9:50 a.m. C3PO: Customizable Computer Coaches
for Physics Online
Contributed – K. Heller, University of Minnesota, School of Physics and
Astronomy, Minneapolis, MN 55455;
E. Frodermann, L. Hsu, Q. Ryan, University of Minnesota
B. Aryal, University of Minnesota-Rochester
Problem solving plays a crucial role in introductory physics. However,
most introductory physics students are not skilled enough in problem solv-
ing to use it effectively as a learning tool. These students need coaching to
improve their problem solving skills as they learn physics. Computers are a
potential tool to provide this coaching since they are patient, non-threaten-
ing, and available 24/7 over the Internet. This talk will briefly describe such
coaches and their success in the first semester of large calculus-based phys-
ics at the University of Minnesota. It will also describe the next generation
of computer coaches that are designed to be easily modified by instructors.
Important contributions to this presentation by: K. Crouse, E. Hoover, J.
Yang (U. Minnesota), J. Docktor (U. Wisconsin, La Crosse), K. A. Jackson
(U. Central Michigan) , and A. Mason (U.Central Arkansas). This work
was partially supported by NSF DUE-0715615 & 1226197.
9:50-10 a.m. Implementation of Web-based Problem
Solving Computer Coaches in Classroom
Contributed – Bijaya Aryal, University of Minnesota-Rochester, 300 University
Square, 111 S Broadway, Rochester, MN 55904;
This presentation describes the integration of web-based computer coaches
into small classes at University of Minnesota Rochester. Implementations
have included students using the coaches outside of class as part of home-
work as well as the use of coaches as part of small group work inside the
classroom. I will present the challenges faced by students and instructor
both inside and outside the classroom, and describe the nature of students’
group dynamics when they used the coaches to facilitate group work.
In addition, I will discuss the impact of the coaches on students’ course
performance and how in-class use of the coaches affected their subsequent
usage outside class.
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