June 15, 2019
June 15, 2019
October 19, 2019
Engineering Physics and Physics
This paper describes the impact of learner-centered teaching techniques on student learning in a second-semester calculus-based physics course for physics and engineering majors at a public government, undergraduate institution in the United States. Some students also take this course as part of their engineering track courses or as an elective. The course contains four blocks of physics concepts: circuits, waves, gases and fluids, as well as modern physics. Two interventions are introduced in each of the four blocks. These interventions are real-world technical mini-sessions targeting defense applications, and real-world mentorship mini-sessions introducing key physicists and engineers through primary source materials including oral histories and diaries of alumni who have taken physics at the institution since the 1800’s.
The circuits block discusses mechanical computers created to defeat Enigma in the US and UK, the invention of the integrated circuit, and the Manhattan Project. Students are shown the Dayton Codebreakers website (http://daytoncodebreakers.org) and the Nobel Prize Speech of Jack Kilby in which he mentioned that the “turning point” for the transistor “came from two highly visible military programs in the 1960s – the Apollo moon mission and the Minuteman missile.” Students are shown the Einstein-Szilard letter posted at Atomic Heritage.org. In the waves block, students are shown an interview with Bill Wilcox, Oak Ridge Historian, in which he discusses General Groves who led the Manhattan Project in WWII. Students are shown original telegrams describing the Hiroshima and Nagasaki missions in August 1945.
In collaboration with the institutional library's Unique Resources Staff, relevant archival records and manuscripts materials are displayed throughout the semester. Sections of these manuscripts that mention physics concepts and equations studied by previous students during the past two centuries are highlighted for the current students to read.
The course assesses student technical knowledge with two mid-term exams. There is a 10-session laboratory program. There is one comprehensive final exam. Required problems are the same for all students. Each instructor can assign unique homework problems and quizzes.
The research is carried out by assigning students to one of two groups (intervention group and control group). This paper measures the student learning in the course with the use of a pre-test/post-test knowledge gain assessment of course physics concepts. Three instructors are collaborating to offer the intervention to 46 cadets. The two of the previous instructors and one additional instructor are teaching the same physics course but do not offer the intervention (64 students are in the non-intervention group). On the first day of the course, students in the intervention group take a multiple-choice pre-survey consisting of 14 questions related to physics equations covered in the course, 5 questions related to student preparation, and four free response questions. Students in the control group take the same multiple-choice pre-survey with the free response questions removed.
Lanzerotti, M. Y., & Wilhelm, K., & Meier, W. M., & Watts, K., & Lintelmann, S. M., & Christoff, S. M. (2019, June), Incorporating DOD Research and Historical Materials into a Second-semester Introductory Calculus-based Physics Course Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32956
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