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Assessment to complement research-based instruction in upper-level physics courses Documents

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Assessment to complement research-based instruction in upper-level physics courses 

written by Michael E. Loverude

Traditional upper-division physics courses tend to focus on summative assessment through quantitative and symbolic problem-solving examination questions. Reforming instruction suggests the need for assessment that matches the instructional strategies. In this paper, we describe assessment strategies implemented in two physics core courses, thermal physics and mathematical methods. Strategies include frequent formative assessment in the form of written ungraded quizzes as well as the inclusion of qualitative written problems on graded quizzes and exams. Examples of assessment items and student responses will be shown. In particular, we will show evidence that students at this level respond more positively to 'pretests' than one might expect, suggesting more expert-like epistemological expectations than is often the case in the introductory course.

Published February 6, 2012
Last Modified April 23, 2012

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