red Supported Site Cal Poly Pomona: Course Reform

Successes

  • In AY 2012-2013, 21 LA positions were offered in 25 Physics courses to assist with student learning and class activities:
    • In Fall 2012, 6 LAs were utilized by 7 physics faculty in 9 courses (5 recitations, 3 lecture, and one activity course (SCI 101, first year experience).
    • In Winter 2013, 8 LAs were utilized by 8 physics faculty in 8 courses (5 recitations, 3 lecture, and one activity format, SCI 101).
    • In Spring 2013, 7 LAs were utilized by 7 physics faculty in 7 courses (3 recitations, 3 lecture, and one activity course (SCI 210 for future elementary teachers).
  • In AY 2013-2014, 27 LA positions were offered in 18 Physics courses (9 Recitations, 6 Lectures, 3 Activity course) to assist with student learning.

Challenges

  • As a result of budget crises over last few years, the CPP Physics department tenure faculty pool is shrinking. Thus, most introductory physics course are being taught by lecturers and adjunct faculty, which makes a long term and sustainable commitment to course transformation challenging.

Sustainability

  • We prioritize making LAs available to introductory course instructors who plan to transform their courses by implementing PER findings and curricular materials.
  • Most CPP physics faculty members are committed to use interactive engagement strategies including Peer Instruction, tutorials, and PhET Simulations.
  • New faculty members are great a support for implementing innovative teaching strategies and often are egger to utilize LAs in their teaching.
  • The LA model is a more affordable mechanism for course transformation compared to alternative course transformation models.

Lessons Learned

Matching experienced LAs with first time LAs in large classes has been a successful model to speed up readiness of the new LAs. The more senior LAs often support and mentor less experienced ones.

General Introductory Calculus-based Physics Recitations

PHY 299A-01

PHY 131 Recitation

PHY 299A-02

PHY 132 Recitation

PHY 299A-03

PHY 133 Recitation

The above three courses are each one-unit elective recitation courses that accompany CPP calculus-based General Physics series (PHY 13x) and are designed to help students with better conceptual understanding and problem solving skills. The list of the reforms made to these courses include:

  • Expanding the number of recitation sections from 1 or 2 to 3 or 4 per quarter.
  • Increasing the class period from 50 minutes to 1 hour and 50 minutes per week.
  • Employing LAs in all sections of the course.
  • Using research-based curriculum (University of Washington Tutorials).
  • Choosing better trained LAs to lead student discussions.
  • Adding course-designated weekly LA office hours

General Introductory Calculus-based Physics

PHY 131

General Physics 1 (calculus- based)

PHY 132

General Physics 2 (calculus- based)

PHY 133

General Physics 3 (calculus- based)

PHY 121

General Physics 1 (algebra- based)

PHY 123

General Physics 3 (algebra- based)

Cal Poly Pomona PHY 13x and PHY 12x series are three quarters of calculus-based and algebra-based General Physics. Some of the reforms made to these courses during the PhyTEC project and via the CPP LA program includes the following:

  • Utilizing LAs to lead small group discussions.
  • Using Peer Instruction in more sections of the course.
  • Having 3-4 LAs in large lectures has changed the dynamics of these classes from pure lecture to a more engaging discussion-based format.
  • Providing homework help and tutoring during LA office hours.

First Year Experience Course

SCI 101

First Year Experience I

SCI 102

First Year Experience II

SCI 101 and 102 are first year experience courses with and designed to prepare physics students for the college life and successful study habits. Having LAs in these courses has provided an additional element of peer mentoring in which more senior physics students interact with the incoming freshman students and help bring them up to speed.

Physics Concept and Activity

SCI 210

Physics Concept and Activities

SCI 210 is a physical science course for CPP liberal art students who wish to become K-8 teachers. Having LAs in this class have contributed to small group work and inquiry aspects of the course. In addition, LAs provide additional help and support to students in this class during the practicum, which often takes place in the form of outreach activities. We pair SCI 210 students with LAs for content support when they present an interactive demo or mini science lesson to elementary and middle school students.