Main Themes of Our Work
- 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.
- Curriculum development to support the
new instructional methods. To ensure that the "active learning"
is fully effective, appropriate curricular materials must be employed. We
continuing development of a "Workbook for Introductory Physics"
which comprises two main parts: (a) multiple-choice questions,
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
- Basic research to support curriculum development. We
have two main projects: (a) Investigation into comparative effectiveness
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