"A Research-validated Approach to Transforming Upper-division Physics Courses"
|Date/Time:||Monday, 25 Mar 2013 from 4:10 pm to 5:00 pm|
At most universities, including the University of Colorado, upper-division physics courses are taught using a traditional lecture approach that does not make use of many of the instructional techniques that have been found to improve student learning at the introductory level. We are transforming upper-division courses (E&M, quantum, and Classical Mechanics) using principles of active engagement and learning theory, guided by the results of observations, interviews, and analysis of student work at CU and elsewhere. I will outline these reforms including consensus learning goals, clicker questions, tutorials, modified homeworks, and more, as an example of what a transformed upper-division course might look like, and as a tool to offer insights into student difficulties in advanced undergraduate topics. We have examined the effectiveness of these reforms relative to traditional courses, based on grades, interviews, and attitudinal and conceptual surveys. Our results suggest that it is valuable to further investigate how physics is taught at the upper-division, and how education research may be applied in this context.
Steven Pollock is a Professor of Physics at CU Boulder. He is a Carnegie teaching scholar, and a University of Colorado president's teaching scholar. His research is in the field of PER (Physics Education Research), investigating physics teacher preparation, large-enrollment course transformation, and upper-division courses. He studies the constraints and opportunities involved in replicating "proven" curricular practices, and how educational models can be extended to the upper-division, including research and development of materials, curriculum, and assessment tools.