University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Project Report 2009
- We instituted a new course, “Seminar for Physics Teaching and Learning Assistants” as the required TA training course for graduate students and the course which will train undergraduate LAs in during fall semesters.
- We continue to work with the faculty in the introductory courses to expand their use of pedagogical techniques, supported by a National Science Foundation grant (L. McNeil, PI).
- We have introduced a new cohort of faculty into teaching the introductory courses using interactive pedagogy.
- We had at least double our regular attendance at a colloquium by Rob Thorne of Cornell on why it is important to care about teaching non-majors and by Eric Mazur of Harvard University about reforming the introductory physics classroom. We also had good attendance at a special seminar by Kenneth Heller of the University of Minnesota about using and writing cooperative group problems in recitations
- We have increased the participation of TAs in fostering group problem solving in recitation sections in our calculus-based courses.
- Having a faculty member attend the beginning of the laboratory session when the conceptual surveys are being administered to explain the importance of taking the surveys seriously seems to have been successful.
- Some of our faculty and TAs involved in intro physics teaching remain unconvinced of the value of interactive pedagogies and do not use them (or not as extensively and effectively as we would like).
- We have not yet been successful in obtaining funds for the renovation of the potential SCALE-UP room.
- As more of our younger faculty and new TAs become accustomed to teaching in this way (and a few more of the more established faculty adopt the newer methods), the usage of interactive pedagogy can be expected to increase.
- Persuading faculty and grad students that it is worthwhile to take the effort to teach in a way other than how they were taught is very difficult in the absence of a perceived crisis.
Calculus-based Introductory Physics
- We continued our weekly course meetings with all the instructors and TAs for the course, led by our PER specialist. The team goes over the problems to be solved in groups in the next week’s recitation sections.
- We increased the use of the materials we have compiled for interactive lecture demonstrations and peer instruction (“clicker questions”) for all courses, and instructors (especially new ones) are using them.
- We have augmented our bank of problems for group work (in recitations) that we have used and found to be effective.
- We are exploring ways to use a traditionally-configured space to implement a SCALE-UP type course (since no optimally-configured room is available without renovation funds), and plan to prepare materials for such a course over the next year.
Algebra-based Introductory Physics
- All instructors now use clickers, though some of the older faculty members do so rather reluctantly and not very effectively.
- One of our faculty members is continuing to develop “recitation-like” activities to be implemented on-line for this course (which does not have a recitation).