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Main Themes of Our Work

  1. Develop and assess new instructional methods for large-enrollment classes. These methods are aimed at increasing the degree of student-faculty interactivity and of active student participation in the classroom learning environment. We use the "Flash Card" response system to obtain instantaneous feedback on multiple-choice questions from all students simultaneously. In addition, students spend a large fraction of class time working in collaborative groups on carefully structured work sheets.

  2. Curriculum development to support the new instructional methods. To ensure that the "active learning" environment is fully effective, appropriate curricular materials must be employed. We are continuing development of a "Workbook for Introductory Physics" which comprises two main parts: (a) multiple-choice questions, emphasizing common conceptual difficulties, for use with "flash-card" or other instantaneous student response systems; (b) closely linked sequences of free-response questions for in-class use by students working in small groups. These questions make heavy use of proportional reasoning, qualitative analysis, and multiple representations, and guide students to deepen conceptual understanding in widely varied contexts. The curricular materials undergo continuous testing and redesign through day-to-day class use, combined with careful assessment of student leaning.

  3. Basic research to support curriculum development. We have two main projects: (a) Investigation into comparative effectiveness of different representational modes, i.e., the relationship between the form of representation of physics concepts, and efficiency of student learning; (b) Investigation of factors underlying individual differences in student learning of physics: why do some students apparently start (conceptually) at the same point, yet finish at different points? How can curriculum and instruction more effectively target these different groups of students to maximize learning of physics concepts?

For more information contact:
Dr. David E. Meltzer (