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Tuesday morning
expose students to contemporary and exciting applications of quantum
mechanics. One protocol used in the QuILT on quantum key distribution
involves generating a shared key over a public channel for encrypting and
decrypting information using single photons with non-orthogonal polar-
ization states and another protocol makes use of entanglement. The QuILT
actively engages students in the learning process and helps them build links
between the formalism and the conceptual aspects of quantum physics
without compromising the technical content. Details of the development
and assessment will be discussed. This work is supported by the National
Science Foundation.
9:50-10 a.m. Quantum Mechanics Online for Non-
Physics Students*
Contributed – Dean A. Zollman, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS
Raiya Ebini, Kansas State University
About 15 years ago the Visual Quantum Mechanics project created a series
of research-based teaching/learning units to introduce quantum physics to
a variety of audiences who normally would not study these topics. Interac-
tive computer visualizations coupled with hands-on experiences created a
student-centered series of activities. The instructional materials address a
variety of concepts in quantum physics and applications to devices such as
the light emitting diode. Whenever possible the students begin the study
of a new concept with activities. They then build models of the physical
phenomenon using interactive computer visualizations and conclude by
applying those models to new situations. The original paper-and-pencil les-
sons and the visualizations are now freely available at
edu/vqm/. We are extending these activities to an online environment. We
are modifying some of our teaching-learning strategies but we have been
able to take advantage of the many web-based resources now available to
build a research-based course.
*Supported by the National Science Foundation and the KSU Division of Continuing
Session DD: Assessment Issues in
Undergraduate Instruction
Location: STSS 330
Sponsor: Committee on Research in Physics Education
Co-Sponsor: Committee on Physics in Undergraduate Education
Date: Tuesday, July 29
Time: 8–10 a.m.
Presider: Eleanor Sayre
8-8:30 a.m. Research-based Assessment Resources to
Improve Teaching in Your Classroom and Department
Invited – Sarah B. McKagan, American Association of Physics Teachers, Col-
lege Park, MD 20740-3845;
Adrian Madsen, American Association of Physics Teachers
Eleanor C. Sayre, Kansas State University
Often physics faculty want to know how their students are doing compared
to other “students like mine.’’ As part of the PER User’s Guide (http://, we are developing a national database of research vali-
dated assessment results and an accompanying data explorer. Here faculty
can securely upload their students’ anonymized assessment results and
compare them to students from peer institutions and the national dataset,
view a question-by-question breakdown and compare results over time.
“One-click analysis’’ allows faculty to visualize their data, view statistics
and download a report of the results. Results can be used to improve
teaching, to make a case for more resources, for accreditation reports, or
for promotion and tenure. Additionally, we are developing guides to these
research validated assessments and access to the tests themselves. We will
showcase our new online system and provide information about how you
can use it.
8:30-9 a.m. Coupled Multiple-response vs. Free-
response Formats in Upper-division Conceptual
Invited – Bethany R. Wilcox, University of Colorado Boulder, 2510 Taft Dr.
Unit 213, Boulder, CO 80302;
Steven J Pollock, University of Colorado Boulder
Free-response conceptual assessments, such as the Colorado Upper-
division Electrostatics Diagnostic (CUE), provide rich, fine-grained
information about students’ reasoning. However, because of the difficul-
ties inherent in scoring these assessments, the majority of the large-scale
conceptual assessments in physics are multiple-choice. To increase the scal-
ability and usability of the CUE, we set out to create a new version of the
assessment that preserves the insights afforded by a free-response format
while exploiting the logistical advantages of a multiple-choice assessment.
We used our extensive database of responses to the free-response CUE to
construct distractors for a new version where students can select multiple
responses and receive partial credit based on the accuracy and consistency
of their selections. Here, we briefly outline the development of this new
coupled, multiple-response CUE. We also discuss a direct comparison of
test statistics for both versions of the assessment and potential insights into
student reasoning from the new version.
9-9:30 a.m. Mathematization in Introductory Physics
through a Socioeconomic Lens
Invited – Suzanne Brahmia, Rutgers University, Department of Physics and
Astronomy, Piscataway, NJ 08854-8019;
Conceptual understanding of arithmetic and algebra (taught before
students reach high school) is essential to effective reasoning in college
Instructional approaches in pre-high school mathematics classes
vary with SES (socioeconomic status); lower SES districts are more likely
to promote rote learning.
Along with demographics, the Math SAT, which
correlates with family income, is an important predictor of success in
college physics.
Students from low SES districts are at a disadvantage in
physics learning partially due to an overemphasis on procedure in their
pre-college science and mathematics problem solving. An ongoing col-
laboration between Rutgers, WWU, and NMSU is developing assessment
tools to measure facets of foundational mathematical reasoning in physics,
and a curricular intervention to help develop these facets in a physics
context. I’ll describe these projects and share performance data comparing
students from low SES high schools to those from more affluent schools in
the freshman engineering physics course.
1. B.L. Sherin, “How students understand physics equations,”
Cognition and instruc-
, 479–541 (2001).
2. J. Anyon, “Social Class and School Knowledge,”
Curriculum Inquiry
, No. 1.
(Spring, 1981), pp. 3-42.
3. P.M. Sadler & R.H. Tai, “Success in introductory college physics: The role of high
school preparation,”
Science Educ.
, 111-136 (2001).
9:30-9:40 a.m. Use of Pre-instruction Tests to Predict
Student Course Performance*
Contributed – David E. Meltzer, Arizona State University, Mesa, AZ 85212;
I will review research related to use of pre-instruction diagnostic tests
such as the Force Concept Inventory as predictors of student course
performance in introductory physics. In addition to both old and new data
from Arizona State University, I will examine data from other institutions,
both published and unpublished. I will explore both potential benefits
and limitations of using pre-instruction data as prognostic measures of
student performance. In particular, I will address the potential influence
of instructional method on the predictive value of diagnostic tests, such as
whether research-based active-learning instruction
might or might not
significantly alter the observed pre-post correlation.
*Supported in part by NSF DUE #1256333
1. D. E. Meltzer and R. K. Thornton, “Resource Letter ALIP-1: Active-Learning
Instruction in Physics,”
Am. J. Phys
, 478 (2012).
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