June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 17, 2015
Engineering Physics & Physics
26.779.1 - 26.779.5
Fishing with Broken Net: Predicament in Teaching Introductory PhysicsThe algebra based Introductory Physics course is offered to all students majoring in Biology,Chemistry, and technology. There has been extensive research on teaching Introductory Physicsover the past four decades, and many people have investigated different aspects, such as theknowledge structure and procedural thinking in problem solving. From our experience teachingthis course, we find that there is another intrinsic issue that has attracted little attention.In most universities, Introductory Physics is taught in two semesters. In the first semester thebulk of the course deals with Newtonian Mechanics, which is an excellent topic for students tolearn how to solve problems with a systematic knowledge base. However, for many students, thistopic is just a collection of equations. We believe that what is lacking is an integration processafter teaching the individual chapters. In the current semester, students will spend three weeksintegrating the individual chapters into a web of knowledge. By using this integration process,we hope students will be less likely to view Newtonian Mechanics as simply a collection ofdiscrete, unrelated topics and equations.This approach can also help students understand mechanics conceptually. For example, whenkinematics was learned at the beginning of the semester, many students believed that there wasan impetus force on a projectile flying in the air. Such a misconception can be corrected moreeasily after momentum and kinetic energy have been covered.The result of this approach to teaching Introductory Physics will be assessed in two ways. First, alarge portion of the final exam problems from last year will be reused this semester and the testscores will be compared and analyzed. Second, a set of conceptual problems will be given beforeand after this integrating period, and the gain measured can show whether it is statisticallysignificant.
Zhang, Y., & Probst, D. K. (2015, June), Fishing with Broken Net: Predicament in Teaching Introductory Physics Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24116
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