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UPII Data is being analyzed to produce a third version of the class.

PhysTEC Courses
BA Physics Program
Physics Education Research
College of Education
Teacher In Residence(TIR)

Course Revisions

The PhysTEC project has allowed the ongoing revision of the introductory physics sequence with the input of the Teachers-in-Residence to present a model of learning through inquiry based activities. Specialized courses for prospective teachers have been created to further examine interactive methods and their translation to the K-12 curriculum. The PhysTEC initiative has impacted most courses in the introductory curriculum.



PHYS 2054/2050 University Physics I (UPI) the first semester introductory calculus-based physics course, covering mechanics and a brief introduction to thermodynamics (Oliver, Gupta, Stewart).

The course is designed to use Eric Mazur's conservation principles first approach (and textbook) and next we will be working to utilize McDermott's tutorials in physics that have been specifically designed for this approach. Stewart was actively involved in the development of Mazur's text, providing multiple revisions to each chapter and approximately 40% of the problems and examples. She has also been asked by McDermott to review and classroom-test the tutorials. There is a rich supply of inquiry-based mechanics labs to draw upon, and lecture demonstrations as done by Thornton and Sokoloff will be considered.

PHYS 2074/2070 University Physics II (UPII) the second semester introductory calculus-based physics course, covering electricity, magnetism, and ray optics.

This course was developed by John and Gay Stewart beginning in 1995 to conform to the idea presented in Priscilla Laws Workshop Physics. It now includes its own course textbook that integrates conceptual and quantitative topics and is carefully timed with the lab presentation. The lab mixes the quantitative practicum and hands-on inquiry based activities seamlessly. Two implementations of the course are available; one with restricted coverage (less is more) and one with full coverage.

The Restricted Coverage implementation of class was presented in the form available at UPII Restricted for four semesters. The course excludes from coverage many topics that are presented in traditional introductory text, but often not actually covered by real classes. The coverage was restricted so that all difficult concepts could be coverage to the twice-a-week lecture and receive support in lab.

The Full Coverage implementation of class was presented in the form available at UPII Full beginning last semester. The course includes all coverage presented in traditional introductory text. Not all covered topics can be supported in lab; the student's have to read. The Full Coverage Version has greatly improved support of the use of calculus in physics, including specific support in the laboratory.

PHYS 2094/2090, University Physics III (UPIII) the third-semester introductory calculus-based physics course, is taken primarily by physics majors (Oliver, Bellaiche, Gea-Banacloche).

It covers thermodynamics and waves in much greater detail than the first semester course, which primarily serves engineers. It also covers physical optics, and may introduce modern physics. It adds a strong slate of computer skills to the physics toolbox as well. PHYS 2094/2090 development will commence in the fall of 2002.


PHYS 400V Lab and Classroom Practices in Physics (1-3 hours)

This emphasizes the pedagogy behind curricular materials. Laboratory and demonstration techniques illustrating fundamental concepts are acquired through participation in the classroom as an apprentice teacher. A special section of the course will be taught in the summer in conjunction with the middle and secondary school College of Education science teaching methods courses (special sections of CIED 5243). This special section will build on the methods presented in the education class, showing specific applications in physics. It will also require of the students the development of a detailed teaching plan for their first year of teaching, including a daily list of topics, sample test and homework problems, and scheduling of hands-on activities designed to support their students' acquisition of the topics. This is a major undertaking, but will be invaluable as they begin teaching. These lesson plans will be placed on the physical science teacher server we will develop, along with our other resources for teachers.

PHYS 2011L College Physics I Laboratory and PHYS 2031L College Physics II Laboratory (Thibado, Oliver, Skinner, Stewart).

We have already made fundamental changes in the classroom instruction the students receive in the algebra-based classes these labs support, using Mazur's peer instruction techniques, as well as elements of Just in Time teaching and web-based homework grading. This combination has proven extremely successful in improving student retention and performance in the classes. These classes are the most likely physics classes to have been taken by prospective future elementary or middle level teachers matriculating to the College of Education from the Fulbright College. They are also a part of the Fulbright degree in Middle School Physical Science Education, and are taken by most future high school biology teachers. These labs have already been revised to be a set of modular materials where the instructor can choose those activities that best support the classroom instruction. However, the labs are not yet well designed for active learning. Appropriate UPI, UPII and UPIII labs will be adapted for the classes and replace the current traditional labs on the same topics allowing us to provide the students with an intensive inquiry-based lab component to the course. Assessment of student performance will then be able to clearly encompass inquiry-based learning.

The PHYS 20XX courses and PHYS 1023/1021L will each have a lab manual that is designed to serve as a future resource for teachers in their own courses. The labs will provide a variety of levels of exploration for the students, and many will involve inexpensive materials readily available to any school. While the lab manuals will be sold on our own campus to students, the PHYS 2XXX lab activities will be made available to all high school teachers, through both our server and that of the AAPT. Upon completion of the respective courses, future teachers will be provided with instructor's copies of the lab manuals. These will provide not only discussion of the instructional goals of the labs, and the pitfalls to beware of, the accepted answers for when everything goes well, but the possible observations students may make due to variations in experimental conditions, and the explanations of these observations. They will also receive a gift upon graduation that will have all of the materials necessary to perform the experiments in their new school setting.