Learning Outcomes for the BS program in Physics.


  • Content: many topics in each of Classical & Relativistic Mechanics, Quantum Mechanics, Electromagnetism/Optics, Thermodynamics/Statistical Mechanics, and Mathematical Physics as defined by the commonly-used undergraduate textbooks that we use, e.g. Taylor, Griffiths, McIntyre. Not all topics in each subfield will be mastered or even addressed, but enough will be presented that students will be able to self-teach those not covered. Implementation: Topic selection will be discussed in the upper-division curriculum group. Assessment: Required coursework, including weekly homework, projects, papers and exams.
  • Multiple representations of scientific information: translate a physical description to a mathematical equation, and conversely, explain the physical meaning of the mathematics, represent key aspects of physics through graphs and diagrams, use geometric arguments in problem-solving. Implementation: Group work and homework in upper-division classes. Assessment: Homework, projects, exam questions that specifically address this. (examples?) (Student problem-solving interviews?? Would require external research funding.)
  • Organized knowledge: describe the big ideas in physics and articulate how these central concepts recur in physics, - oscillations & waves, eigenstates, conservation laws, energy, symmetry, discrete-to-continuous descriptions. Implementation: Paradigms curriculum is specifically designed to couple similar ideas from different subdisciplines. (examples?) Assessment: Homework, projects exams specifically address this (examples?).
  • Communication: justify and explain their thinking and/or approaches, both written and oral. Demonstrate the ability to present clear, logical and succinct arguments, including prose and mathematical language, Write and speak using professional norms, and demonstrate an ability to collaborate effectively. Implementation: WIC, group work in classes, laboratory reports, encourage cohort collaboration outside class by providing shared space. Assessment: Senior thesis document and oral presentation, laboratory project reports, classroom reporting from groups is the norm in many classes.
  • Problem-solving strategy: organize and carry out long, complex physics problems, articulate expectations for, and justify reasonableness of solutions, state strategy/model and assumptions, and demonstrate an awareness of what constitutes sufficient evidence or proof. Implementation: Homework problem-solving assignments Assessment: Homework problem-solving assignments.
  • Intellectual maturity: students should be aware of what they don’t understand, as evidenced by asking sophisticated, specific questions; articulating where they experience difficulty; and taking actions to move beyond that difficulty. Implementation: Faculty include in pedadogy Assessment: Not formally assessed.
  • Research: make measurements on physical systems understanding the limitations of the measurements and the limitations of models used to interpret the measurements, computationally model the behavior of physical systems, and understand the limitations of the algorithm and the machine. Complete an experimental, computational or theoretical research project under the guidance of faculty and report on this project in writing and orally to an audience of peers and faculty. Implementation and Assessment: Senior thesis WIC, laboratory courses and assignments, computational projects in courses.