Activity Based Physics Suite: Curricular Materials

ABP Group members have used their own physics education research and the research of others to inform their curriculum and computer tool development activities. Since 1986, members have had major funding from NSF, FIPSE, U.S. Department of Education, the Dana Foundation and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. This has resulted in the creation of an Activity Based Physics Suite‚ a collection of introductory physics curricular materials‚ most of which use computer-assisted data acquisition and analysis.The materials are based on physics education research, and all have the same underlying educational philosophy. The Physics Suite is published by John Wiley and Sons in conjunction with a new research-based introductory text, Understanding Physics.

The Physics Suite materials are described below:

Interactive Lecture Demonstrations (ILDs): Designed to enhance conceptual learning in large (and small) lectures. Real physics demonstrations are shown to students, who then make predictions about the outcomes on a prediction sheet, and collaborate with fellow students by discussing their predictions in small groups. Students then observe the results of the live demonstration (often displayed as real-time graphs using computer data acquisition tools), compare these results with their predictions, and attempt to explain the observed phenomena. ILDs have been demonstrated to enhance student learning of physics concepts. Complete materials are published by John Wiley and Sons in both printed and electronic formats. Available for most introductory physics topics.

RealTime Physics Active Learning Laboratories (RTP): A series of lab modules that use computer data acquisition tools to help students develop important physics concepts while acquiring vital laboratory skills. Besides using computer probes, computers are used for basic mathematical modeling, data analysis and some simulations.RTP labs use the same learning cycle of prediction, observation and comparison as ILDs, and have been demonstrated to enhance student learning of physics concepts. There are four RTP modules, Module 1: Mechanics, Module 2: Heat and Thermodynamics, Module 3: Electric Circuits and Module 4: Light and Optics, all published by Wiley in both printed and electronic formats.

Tools for Scientific Thinking (TST): Designed for instructors who want to replace some but not all of their traditional laboratory sessions with activities designed to teach physics concepts. The TST curriculum helps introduce instructors and students to computer-enhanced active learning using computer data acquisition tools, and has been demonstrated to enhance student learning of physics concepts. Laboratory Guides in Motion & Force and in Heat & Temperature are published by Vernier Software and Technology in both printed and electronic formats.

Workshop Physics (WP): Complete, calculus-based introductory physics curriculum in which lectures and formal laboratory experiments are replaced by activities that guide student inquiry. The introductory course is re-structured into three, 2-hour meetings/week in a laboratory/workshop room. A range of computer tools is used including spreadsheet mathematical modeling tools, computer data acquisition tools and digital video analysis software. The Workshop Physics Activity Guide consists of four modules: Core Volume and Module 1--Mechanics I , Module II--Mechanics II , Module III--Heat and Temperature and Nuclear Radiation, and Module IV--Electricity and Magnetism, all published by Wiley in both printed and electronic formats.

Explorations in Physics: This interdisciplinary workshop curriculum is designed for general education college science courses. Each module is a blend of approximately 12-15 hours of guided inquiry followed by 12-15 hours of topic-related open-ended projects. Computer data acquisition and video analysis tools are used. The Explorations in Physics guide, published by Wiley in printed and electronic formats, includes the following seven modules: (1) Motion, Measurement and Mathematical Modeling, (2) Light, Color and Rainbows, (3) Pressure, Wind and Weather, (4) Heat, Temperature and Cloud Formation, (5) Energy, Fuels, and Environment, (6) Patterns, Fractals and Turbulence,and (7) Waves, Sound and Musical Tones. (Developed by David Jackson, Dickinson College and Scott Franklin, Rochester Institute of Technology with Co-PI Priscilla Laws.)

Physics by Inquiry: Developed by Lillian McDermott and the Physics Education Group at the University of Washington, originally for pre-service and in-service courses and workshops for teachers.Inquiry, workshop style curriculum in which students are guided in small groups with carefully prepared worksheets to reason through simple physical observations and experiments.Activities available for most physics topics.

Tutorials in Introductory Physics: Developed by Lillian McDermott and the Physics Education Group at the University of Washington. Small group-learning activities with worksheets that emphasize concept building and qualitative reasoning. Tutorials available for most physics topics. Included in the Suite by arrangement with Prentice Hall.

ABP Tutorials: Tutorials in the same style as Tutorials in Introductory Physics, that integrate Suite tools like computer data acquisition, video analysis and simulations. Available for most introductory physics topics, including modern physics. (Developed by Edward Redish and the Physics Education Research Group at University of Maryland.)

Understanding Physics: A revised version of the classic Halliday, Resnick and Walker text, modified to focus more strongly on issues where students are known to have difficulties from physics education research.The narrative also stresses the empirical basis for physics knowledge, and includes real data collected with computer tools to help students understand not only what we know but also how we know it. It is enriched by a careful choice of touchstone problems, estimations, representation translations and context-rich real-world problems. (Karen Cummings, Priscilla Laws, Edward Redish and Patrick Cooney are the authors.)

Teaching Physics with the Physics Suite: All of the curricular materials have been designed for flexible use.They are published in printed and electronic formats to enable instructors to combine and modify them to meet the needs of different student populations and course structures.Besides curricula and tools, the Physics Suite includes an informative new book by E.F. Redish, Teaching Physics with the Physics Suite, available free from the publisher to accompany the Suite materials. This book is an instructor resource guide that includes informative sections on active learning in general, and on how to use and combine different materials from the Suite to meet individual instructors' classroom needs. It includes a CD that contains an action research kit to support local research on student learning, including learning assessment instruments and computer evaluation tools.

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