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STACKING YOUR PHYSICS COURSES

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Calculus-based students can act as tutors for trig-based students to aid in problem solving. ... students have poor math backgrounds. Experiment with learning ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: STACKING YOUR PHYSICS COURSES


1
STACKING YOUR PHYSICS COURSES
  • GOOD IDEA OR TRAGEDY WAITING TO HAPPEN?
  • By
  • Grant Eastland
  • Instructor, Blue Mountain Community College
  • Pendleton, OR

2
Outline
  • Background
  • What is stacking?
  • What are the benefits?
  • What are the drawbacks?
  • Why do it?
  • Does it depend on the subject?
  • How to make it work?
  • Student opinion
  • Conclusions
  • Acknowledgements

3
Background
  • I am an adjunct instructor.
  • I could only teach 12 IU per term and 36 a year.
    (Instructional Units)
  • Both the trig-based and Calculus-based courses I
    would put me at 12.5 IU.
  • I also teach a general science course.
  • Had enough students interested in both courses.
  • Didnt want to tell one group of students to take
    a hike.

4
Stacking courses
  • Stacking is teaching two similar content courses
    simultaneously and treating it as one.
  • Ex. PH 201/211
  • Done all the time at a university.
  • PH 451/551A undergraduate course and graduate
    course together.

5
Benefits
  • Stacking is a possible solution to low enrollment
    courses.
  • Students are able to utilize each others skills.
  • Calculus-based students can act as tutors for
    trig-based students to aid in problem solving.
  • All the students must learn physics by applying
    it with more emphasis on experimentation.

6
Benefits (cont.)
  • Trig-based students get a glimpse into more
    advanced topics.
  • All students learn how to work in groups
    comprised of people with different backgrounds.
  • Administrators are happy at getting two courses
    for the price of one.

7
Drawbacks
  • Have to make two versions of all course
    materials.
  • Must teach all topics so that they can be
    understood by all students.
  • Cant cover topics that require any mathematical
    rigor without a special session for calculus
    students.
  • Textbooks do not always coincide on the same
    topic.

8
Drawbacks (cont.)
  • Use of calculus in example problems are limited
    to avoid confusing trig-based students
  • Spending more time in preparation than expected.
  • Calculus-based students are not learning as much
    theoretical physics as experimental.
  • Need more experimental activities.
  • Students seem to be understanding less.

9
Why do it?
  • Only should do it if low enrollment is a problem!
  • Dont want to tell a group of students to take a
    hike.
  • Most of your students have poor math backgrounds.
  • Experiment with learning activities.
  • Gives students the opportunity to diversify their
    learning.

10
Does the subject matter?
  • Answer Yes
  • Physics is difficult without mathematics
  • Successful for other subjects
  • GeologyFairly successful
  • Chemistryhas been done at BMCC, not recommended

11
How to make it work?
  • Traditional lecture doesnt work well
  • Must keep mathematical rigor to a minimum
  • Calculus-based students get gypped.
  • Students must be more involved in their learning
    of physics
  • Interactive lecture demonstrations
  • More experimental work than theoretical
  • Regular lab reports or in-depth classroom
    handouts

12
Making it work
  • Activity-based physics probably best method.
  • Students learn by discovering.
  • Calculus-based students answer same questions,
    with more mathematical rigor.
  • All students learn how to pick and fit a model to
    experimental data.
  • All students learn the scientific method and
    report results to others.
  • Learn how to report on real world problems.
  • Good Skills for future engineers.

13
Making it work (cont.)
  • Students write regular lab reports or worksheets.
  • Do separate homework assignments and exams.
  • Only differ by mathematical treatment

14
Student opinion(survey answers)
Question PH 20X PH 21X
Which course? 3 5
Opinion stacked? 1 like, 3 neutral 5 like, 0 dislike
Lectures help? 2 yes , 1 maybe 4 yes, 1 no
More experiments? 1 yes, 2 maybe 4 yes, 1 no
Presentation? 2 good, 1 improve 3 good, 1 ok, 1 ???
Feel gypped? 3 no, 0 yes 5 no, 0 yes
Take stacked again? 1 yes, 1 no, 1 neut 5 yes, 0 no
Do better? no change 3 more ex, 2 other
Comments Better equipment Good class
15
Conclusions
  • Only should stack General and Calculus-based
    courses when low enrollment is a problem.
  • Traditional lecture is not best method.
  • Activity-based physics probably best method.
  • Requires more work for instructor with less
    benefit than teaching a single course.
  • Probably more drawbacks than benefits
  • Students didnt know the difference

16
Acknowledgements
  • PNACPallowing me to give talk
  • BMCCsupporting my trip
  • Stan ProwantChemistry/Geology instructor
  • Discussions on stacked courses
  • Sabina Macyfriend and editor
  • My Physics students
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