Physics (13). This project implements a new inquiry-based curriculum in introductory calculus-based physics courses to enhance student conceptual understanding of mechanics, thermodynamics, electricity, magnetism, and optics. Two proven curricula, Interactive Lecture Demonstrations in the lecture courses and RealTime Physics in the laboratory courses, are implemented as they were designed but are more tightly integrated in terms of the content and the dates that topics are covered. Students gain in conceptual knowledge, in problem solving abilities, and their perception of learning. A recitation component is added to the laboratory course immediately after the conceptual laboratory activities and concentrates on applying concepts as an expert problem-solver does rather than on algorithmic solutions. Open-ended, collaborative projects that require students to apply the physical concepts that they have learned to very concrete applications are added to build a sense of community among students, encourage excellence, and help students see connections between abstract classroom physics and the real world. In collaboration with the Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning, a supplemental Graduate Teaching Assistant preparation program trains graduate students how to implement the new curricula and facilitate effective student learning. An Undergraduate Student Advisory Panel solicits student input for design and assessment of the implementation project. Standardized physics education research assessment instruments are used with formative and summative surveys to document student conceptual gains and changes in attitudes and beliefs about learning physics. The intellectual merit of this proposal is in the establishment of a means for deeper, coherent understanding of and appreciation for fundamental physics among STEM majors in the introductory physics courses that leads to positively shaping of the students' attitudes and beliefs about learning physics. The broader impacts of this project are in the dissemination of lessons that are learned as a consequence of implementing these proven curricula at a large metropolitan university.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Undergraduate Education (DUE)
Standard Grant (Standard)
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John F. Mateja
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University of Central Florida
United States
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