Supported Site Central Washington University: Course Reform

Successes

  • The PI developed two learning assistant courses, PHYS 292 and 392 (Exploring Physics Teaching I and II). These courses were approved by the university curriculum committee year one. 
  • The physics department continued teaching all introductory physics courses using an integrated lecture/lab format as was planned to start Fall 2012 even before we received the PhysTEC grant.
  • The PI will work with the new department secretary to develop an efficient system to analyze and report data to support and inform reformed teaching.  
  • The PI recruited one new faculty teaching introductory courses to attend the workshops at the Washington section meeting of AAPT.

Challenges

  • Not all faculty members in the department are effective practitioners of reformed teaching techniques so LA time is often wasted in the classroom.  
  • There are not enough faculty members who can use LAs successfully.
  • It is difficult to find the time and money for professional development for all introductory course instructors in using and assessing reformed teaching techniques.
  • Gathering, compiling, analyzing, and effectively using standardized test data (such as the FCI) to support and inform reformed teaching is an organizational challenge with only a part-time department secretary.

Sustainability

  • All introductory physics courses are scheduled to be taught in an integrated lecture/lab format for the foreseeable future.
  • The LA courses, which train students to support the reformed physics courses, are on the department schedule for the foreseeable future.

Lessons Learned

  • The PI will work with the new department secretary to develop an efficient system to analyze and report data to support and inform reformed teaching.
  • The PI will encourage faculty teaching introductory courses to attend the workshops at the Washington section meeting of AAPT.List lessons learned in course reform
  • The department needs to engage in professional development for faculty members to help them better utilize reformed teaching pedagogies.

PHYS 392: Exploring Physics Teaching II (approved year one but taught for the first time year two)

  • This course was developed as part of the PhysTEC project. Its major outcomes are to 1) Plan a basic physics lesson, 2) Demonstrate research-based teaching practices, 3) Effectively self-assess and reflect on teaching practice, and 4) Develop pedagogical content knowledge in physics.