PERC 2009 Abstract Detail Page

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Abstract Title: Cognitive Issues in Developing Curriculum for Upper-Level Physics Courses
Abstract: In the last few decades, several exemplary introductory physics curricula have been developed that take into account cognitive issues in the teaching and learning of physics. This session will focus on how physics education researchers, in recent years, have begun developing and evaluating curricula for upper-level physics courses that account for cognitive issues. The poster presenters will discuss cognitive approaches to designing upper-level physics curriculum pertaining to different subject matters. They will particularly focus on analyzing the issues that are common across different subject matters and those that are particularly important for their topic of interest. Presenters will also discuss the importance of various cognitive issues in the design of upper-level courses compared to their importance in developing introductory physics curriculum.
Abstract Type: Targeted Poster Session

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Chandralekha Singh
University of Pittsburgh
3941 Ohara St.
Department of Physics, University of PIttsburgh
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
Phone: 412-624-9045
Fax: 4126249163

Targeted Poster Session Specific Information

Poster 1 Title: Observations of General Learning Patterns in an Upper-Level Thermal Physics Course
Poster 1 Authors: David E. Meltzer, Arizona State University
Poster 1 Abstract: I will discuss some observations from using interactive-engagement instructional methods in an upper-level thermal physics course over a
two-year period. From the standpoint of the subject matter knowledge of the upper-level students, there was a striking persistence of
common learning difficulties previously observed in students enrolled in the introductory course, accompanied, however, by some notable
contrasts between the groups. More broadly, I will comment on comparisons and contrasts regarding general pedagogical issues among different student sub-populations, for example: differences in the receptivity of lower- and upper-level students to diagrammatic representations; varying receptivity to tutorial-style instructional approach within the upper-level population; and contrasting approaches to learning among physics and engineering sub-populations in the upper-level course with regard to use of symbolic notation, mathematical equations, and readiness to employ verbal explanations.