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Reforming a large lecture modern physics course for engineering majors using a PER-based design Documents

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Reforming a large lecture modern physics course for engineering majors using a PER-based design 

written by Sam B. McKagan, Katherine K. Perkins, and Carl E. Wieman

We have reformed a large lecture modern physics course for engineering majors by radically changing both the content and the learning techniques implemented in lecture and homework. Traditionally this course has been taught in a manner similar to the equivalent course for physics majors, focusing on mathematical solutions of abstract problems. Based on interviews with physics and engineering professors, we developed a syllabus and learning goals focused on content that was more useful to our actual student population: engineering majors. The content of this course emphasized reasoning development, model building, and connections to real world applications. In addition we implemented a variety of PER-based learning techniques, including peer instruction, collaborative homework sessions, and interactive simulations. We have assessed the effectiveness of reforms in this course using pre/post surveys on both content and beliefs. We have found significant improvements in both content knowledge and beliefs compared with the same course before implementing these reforms and a corresponding course for physics majors.

Published January 30, 2007
Last Modified July 18, 2010

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