NSF Proposal Summary DUE-9653250
6/97–11/02; $497,063

PARADIGMS IN PHYSICS
Corinne A. Manogue, Philip Siemens, & Janet Tate

We are developing materials for a new curriculum for Junior-year Physics majors, learning by example in case-study format. Today's upper-division curricula currently require more advanced analytical and problem-solving skills than can be taught in a lower-division course dominated by the needs of non-major students, as typically offered by most departments. The objective is a double-tiered upper-division course of study, allowing students to consider the main topics twice: first emphasizing analytical skills, then emphasizing deductive and disciplinary integration. The curriculum, Paradigms in Physics, is to be a sequence of case studies of paradigmatic physical situations and conceptual examples, typically spanning two or more sub-disciplines. The teaching methodology of each Paradigm is being chosen to develop analytical and problem-solving skills. The topics are being chosen to span many of the principal examples usually developed while teaching the deductive disciplines. These Paradigms are to be followed in the senior year by survey courses which systematically present the deductive systems of Physics in a condensed format, as well as courses describing the phenomena and methodology of modern research areas. The dual-function (topic and method) design of the case studies will improve students' comprehension of the deductive disciplines, not only because they have enhanced analytical skills, but also because they are familiar with the central examples. Textbooks are being chosen for use throughout both years. Additional instructional materials is being sought and, as necessary, developed for each Paradigm; the content and medium of these materials is being chosen according to the specific demands of each topic, as will the instructional methodology. This flexibility allows appropriate use of group work, collaborative learning, and new technological resources. Evaluation is being performed by collaboration with a specialist as well as by external review; non-sighted access will be facil itated. Results will be made available at AAPT meetings, as published articles and on the Web.


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