red Supported Site University of Wisconsin - La Crosse: Course Reform


  • The science methods course, Teaching and Learning Science in the Secondary School, was reformed to be a more meaningful experience for teacher candidates.
  • Instructors for the introductory calculus-based physics course sequence continue to make modifications to improve the recently-implemented studio format.


  • Documenting the effectiveness of course reform is challenging. Pre-post test scores do not always convey the experience of students, and students may not respond to additional survey questions without some incentive to do so.
  • Including an early field experience in the methods course creates a substantially heavier time commitment on the part of the instructor(s) to make visits to local schools and observe students teach.


  • The Teaching and Learning Science course will continue to be co-taught by at least two discipline-based education faculty. A 3-year plan for this teaching rotation was established during meetings with the director of the School of Education, but is contingent upon having sufficient numbers of students in the program.
  • Physics faculty at UW-La Crosse are committed to teaching and are generally willing to try new research-based instructional strategies in their classes. Discussions are ongoing for how to make additional modifications to the new studio-based introductory calculus-based physics course.

Lessons Learned

  • For adequate response rates, course surveys need to be embedded into the course itself with some incentive for students to complete the survey (e.g. extra credit).

BIO/CHM/PHY 469: Teaching and Learning Science in the Secondary School

  • This course was completely overhauled in Fall 2012. The format now includes an embedded clinical field experience (80-100 hours in a high school classroom) and many of the assignments are designed to align with students' field experiences. The course syllabus was a collaboration among "teaching and learning" course instructors in science education, math education, history education, and english education.

PHY203: Fundamentals of Physics I and PHY204: Fundamentals of Physics II

  • These calculus-based introductory physics courses were reformed to be studio-based in the year prior to PhysTEC funding (integrated lab/lecture). Additional reforms have included the incorporation of technology tools and Research-Based Instructional Strategies (such as using PhysLETs). In Fall 2013 the course will include a 1-hour problem solving discussion session each week.