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Evaluating Introductory Physics Classes In Light Of The Abet Criteria: An Example From The Scale Up Project

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2000 Annual Conference


St. Louis, Missouri

Publication Date

June 18, 2000

Start Date

June 18, 2000

End Date

June 21, 2000



Page Count


Page Numbers

5.284.1 - 5.284.15

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Paper Authors

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Rhett J. Allain

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Jeff Saul

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Duane L. Deardorff

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David S. Abbott

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Robert J. Beichner

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 2380

Evaluating introductory physics classes in light of the ABET criteria: An example from the SCALE-UP Project Jeffery M. Saul, Duane L. Deardorff, David S. Abbott, Rhett J. Allain, and Robert J. Beichner North Carolina State University

Abstract The Student-Centered Activities for Large Enrollment University Physics (SCALE-UP) project at North Carolina State University (NCSU) is developing a curriculum to promote learning through in-class group activities in introductory physics classes up to 100 students. We are currently in Phase II of the project using a specially designed multimedia classroom for 54 students to teach the introductory physics course for engineering majors. This is an intermediate step to the full SCALE-UP classes (99 students) that will be taught in Fall 2000 when the larger classroom is completed. Both classrooms are designed to encourage students to work in groups of three, provide each group with to a laptop computer that has access to the Internet, and allow instructors to interact with each student group. Traditional lecture and laboratory are replaced with an integrated approach using active-learning cooperative group activities. The project is investigating several aspects of instruction including classroom design, classroom management, and curriculum materials. The curriculum materials include adaptation of research- based/informed activities from the literature to the SCALE-UP classroom and development of new activities. This talk will focus on the evaluation of the project, in particular, evaluating whether students are achieving the learning objectives for the curriculum. Several of the course learning objectives overlap the ABET 2000 criteria including: learning to work well in groups (teamwork), communicating effectively, being able to apply knowledge of mathematics and physics to new situations, and conducting, analyzing and interpreting experiments in addition to building a functional understanding of the course content. Evaluation methods of the SCALE-UP classes taught during the 1998-2000 school years include concept tests, individual and group exams, peer evaluation, and focus group interviews. The results show that students are building a better understanding of the main physics concepts, are more successful at solving problems, and are generally on-task and communicating well during group activities.

I. Introduction The ABET 2000 criteria represent a radical departure in evaluating undergraduate education programs. Rather than require engineering and technology programs to conform to a set of national standards, the ABET 2000 criteria requires these programs to define their own learning

Allain, R. J., & Saul, J., & Deardorff, D. L., & Abbott, D. S., & Beichner, R. J. (2000, June), Evaluating Introductory Physics Classes In Light Of The Abet Criteria: An Example From The Scale Up Project Paper presented at 2000 Annual Conference, St. Louis, Missouri.

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