Two-Year College Physics Workshops for the Twenty-First Century

A Project of Joliet Junior College (IL), Lee College (TX), and the National Science Foundation

August 1, 2001 (Wednesday)

HTML Pre-Workshop

August 2-4, 2001 (Thursday — Saturday)

Physlet Workshop

Wolfgang Christian, Davidson College, Davidson, NC

David Weaver, Chandler-Gilbert Community College, Chandler, AZ

Andrew Duffy, Boston University, Boston, MA

Martin Mason, College of the Desert, Palm Desert, CA

Scott Wennerdahl, Joliet Junior College, Joliet, IL

Tom O’Kuma, Lee College, Baytown, TX

Curtis Hieggelke, Joliet Junior College, Joliet, IL

Recent research findings indicate that the "traditional" lecture-style, passive learning model does not substantially impact the learning and understanding of most students who take introductory physics. The research also indicates that most students enter introductory physics with alternative conceptions to many of the basic concepts that are taught in introductory physics. For most students, passive learning techniques generally do not replace these "misconceptions" with concepts that are more consistent with our understanding of nature. Results from physics education research has indicated several different active learning techniques that have substantially increased student conceptual understanding in introductory physics.

During this Physlets workshop, participants will become familiar with a new, web-based, active learning pedagogy employing Physlets® (physics applets) for enhancing conceptual understanding and problem solving skills of students. This will include Physlet-based curricular material that uses various teaching strategies, such as Just-in-Time-Teaching, Peer Instruction, Tutorials, and Ranking Tasks. This also will involve incorporating Physlets as simulations and animations in pre-lab assignments, in-class, and as Physlabs that are like an on-line alternative to a textbook. Also included will be opportunities to use them within Blackboard’s CourseInfo system, a widely used college course management system.

During this workshop, participants will learn how to use Physlets, i.e., interactive Java applets written at Davidson College, to deliver HTML-based interactive media-focused problems and other interactive curricular material to students.  Participants will also gain experience to develop the ability and skills to modify, adapt, script, and construct new materials using Physlets. Participants will have an opportunity to develop new materials for their students, while in a collaborative group of other two-year college educators. One of the primary goals of this workshop is to illustrate how these ideas can be implemented at two-year colleges. Several methods of integrating the ideas presented at this workshop into the curricula will be discussed, including results from two-year college settings as well as using them within Blackboard’s CourseInfo system.

The HTML pre-workshop will deal with introduction to HTML, basic scripting techniques, intermediate and advanced scripting techniques, basics of using HTML in Blackboard’s CourseInfo system, and a scripting project.

Discussion and information on the needs of the technological workforce and its connection with the activities of this workshop will be presented. There will also be an opportunity to share and discuss issues relating to teaching physics more effectively, particularly to students enrolled in technician/technology education programs. There will be extensive discussions on how to use various strategies, tools, and tactics to overcome problems and barriers in learning at two-year colleges. Important issues such as standards, assessment, diversity, and technology utilization will be addressed at various points during the workshop. Discussion and information on the needs of the technological workforce and its connection with the activities of this workshop will also be presented.

The workshop leaders have many years of experience in developing and refining curriculum for introductory physics students. In addition, and more importantly, the workshop leaders have extensive experience with the implementation and adaptation of curriculum at a variety of institutions for diverse types of introductory physics students, along with the training of faculty in using and developing their own curricula for their technology-oriented students.

Supported in part by a grant from the Division of Undergraduate Education through the Advanced Technological Education (ATE) Program of the National Science Foundation (DUE #9950062)