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Physics Jam, a Physics Preparation Program to Increase Student Performance and Success in Introductory Physics Courses

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

June 29, 2016





Conference Session

Engineering Physics Technical Session 1

Tagged Division

Engineering Physics & Physics

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


Courtney Hadsell Cañada College

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I graduated with my PhD in Physics from The University of North Carolina in 2013. I am currently a physics instructor and physics program services coordinator at Cañada College. I have a deep passion in promoting understanding and success for physics students thought pre-semester and continuing academic support.

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Students enrolled in community college science and engineering programs typically have a long path of prerequisites to overcome before they are able to enroll in transfer-level courses. These students are also frequently under prepared when entering college and lack the study skills necessary for success. The courses required for science or engineering transfer involve many courses with high drop, withdraw, and fail rates, which can lengthen the time needed to complete transfer coursework. At Cañada College we found that even students that ultimately persisted were attempting courses such as physics multiple times before they were able to successfully pass the course. These challenges inhibit the students’ ability to complete the necessary requirements for transfer in a timely manner, if they are able to complete them at all. We have chosen to address these issues by developing a pre-semester physics bootcamp to give students the necessary study skills and practice working with physics content before they start their physics course. Additionally, we incorporate directed support during the semester to continue developing the student’s ability to succeed.

Physics Jam is a 1 to 2 week free program offered to all students taking first or second semester physics. During the program students work on reviewing math concepts they will need to be successful in their physics course, developing study skills, and an introduction to the content they will see in their course. A majority of the program is self-paced allowing students to spend more time on concepts they are struggling with. A cornerstone of the program is the intense study-skills workshops which teach students how to approach their upcoming course. Included in these study skills are certain aspects of Reading Apprenticeship to show students how to not only approach their test but the problems they will face during the semester. The goal of the program is to give students a “toolbox” to use during the semester and the confidence that they can succeed in the course. Continued academic support is also offered during the semester to keep students on track. Preliminary data shows that students who participate in Physics Jam are more successful than their peers who do not.

This paper will discuss the successes, obstacles, and best practices in developing and implementing the pre-semester physics preparation bootcamp.

Hadsell, C. (2016, June), Physics Jam, a Physics Preparation Program to Increase Student Performance and Success in Introductory Physics Courses Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25899

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