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Abstract Title: Formative and Summative Assessment in Upper-level Physics
Abstract: This targeted poster gallery will explore formative and summative assessment issues in upper-level physics. The poster presenters will cover different areas of upper-level physics. The issues discussed will include whether assessments similar those used in introductory physics are suitable for upper-level courses and the types of assessment that are effective. A diverse set of formative and summative assessment tools will be discussed.
Abstract Type: Poster Gallery Session

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Chandralekha Singh
University of Pittsburgh
3941 Ohara Street
University of Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
Phone: 4126249045
Fax: 4126249163
Co-Author(s)
and Co-Presenter(s)
Guangtian Zhu

Poster Gallery Session Specific Information

Poster 1 Title: Assessing Student Learning and Teaching Effectiveness in Intermediate Mechanics
Poster 1 Authors: Bradley S. Ambrose,
Department of Physics, Grand Valley State University
Poster 1 Abstract: The poster will present several examples of PER-tested assessment techniques incorporated into Intermediate Mechanics Tutorials (IMT), a suite of instructional materials that itself has been modeled after published materials such as Tutorials in Introductory Physics by McDermott, Shaffer, et al., (Prentice-Hall, 2002) and Activity-Based Tutorials by Wittmann, Steinberg, and Redish (Wiley, 2004).  Much like their introductory-level counterparts, the IMT pre- and post-tutorial assessments consist of written "explain your reasoning" tasks designed to probe for persistent conceptual and reasoning difficulties.  In addition, the in-class IMT worksheets include instructor checkpoints for formative student feedback.  This poster will provide evidence supporting the appropriateness and effectiveness of such assessment techniques in intermediate mechanics.  Also to be discussed are selected adaptations of these methods that have been developed by pilot-testers of IMT materials as well as the author of this poster.
Poster 2 Title: Multiple Roles of Assessment in Upper-division Physics Course Reforms
Poster 2 Authors: Steven Pollock, Rachel Pepper, Stephanie Chasteen, Katherine Perkins
Department of Physics, University of Colorado, Boulder
Poster 2 Abstract: The University of Colorado at Boulder has been involved in a systematic program of middle- and upper-division course transformations. The role of assessment has been critical at three very different scales: (1) Formative assessment focused on the course itself in the design phase; (2) Formative assessment focused on students in the instructional phase; and (3) Summative assessment to determine student performance and the success of course design. We summarize the role and nature of assessments at each of these levels.  At the design scale, investigative measures include observations and surveys of students and student work. In the classroom, assessments to determine and address student difficulties include clicker questions, class activities, and tutorials. At the summative scale, assessments include faculty interviews and course and tutorial-scale posttests. We discuss the development of these different layers of assessments, provide a sampling of new materials, summarize summative outcomes, and outline ongoing challenges to sustainability.
Poster 3 Title: Assessment to Complement Research-based Instruction in Upper-division Courses
Poster 3 Authors: Michael Loverude
Department of Physics, California State University Fullerton
Poster 3 Abstract: 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 poster, we describe assessment strategies implemented in two physics core courses, primarily in a thermal physics course but also in a course in 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.
Supported in part by NSF grant DUE-0817335.
Poster 4 Title: Developing and Evaluating Formative and Summative Evaluation Tools for Quantum Mechanics
Poster 4 Authors: Chandralekha Singh and Guangtian Zhu
Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Pittsburgh
Poster 4 Abstract: Quantum mechanics is challenging even for advanced undergraduate and graduate students. In this poster, we discuss the development and evaluation of formative and summative assessment tools for quantum mechanics. The formative assessment tools discussed include research-based concept tests as peer instruction tools, reflective homework problems and pre-tests and post-tests for various Quantum Interactive Learning Tutorials (QuILTs).  The principal summative assessment tool is the Quantum Mechanics Survey (QMS), which covers concepts in quantum mechanics in one spatial dimension in the undergraduate courses. QMS can be useful for measuring the effectiveness of various curricula and pedagogies.
This work is supported by the National Science Foundation.
Poster 5 Title: Assessing Non-content Goals in Upper-Division Physics
Poster 5 Authors: Corinne Manogue
Department of Physics, Oregon State University
Poster 5 Abstract: In addition to many content goals in specific physics subdisciplines, we all have many other goals for upper-division students, including robust mathematical, experimental, and computational skills.  Our majors should be able to bring a variety of sensemaking tools to their problem-solving: spatial and geometric reasoning, physical intuition, knowledge of the dimensions and sizes of physical quantities, and the ability to compare their answers to known special examples and limiting cases.  They should have a strong sense of how theory and experiment relate and how applications play out in the real world.  Above all, we want our majors to be self-confident problem-solvers who identify themselves as professionals, capable of learning new content and skills as necessary, and of working effectively in both independent and team environments.  In the Paradigms in Physics program at Oregon State University, we have developed a number of curricular strategies intended to foster these skills and attitudes.  During this poster session, we will attempt to facilitate discussion about research strategies that might allow us to begin assessing these non-curriculum goals.