program_wb_i - page 97

July 26–30, 2014
Tuesday morning
9:40-9:50 a.m. Assessment in Jr. Physics Laboratory
Contributed – Karen A. Williams, East Central University, Ada, OK 74820;
My institution began a new assessment plan for the physics major about 18
months ago. This plan requires the assessment of the Junior Lab students’
communication (written, verbal and graphical), their ability to apply their
knowledge to applications in each lab, the evaluation of a design lab, and
their ability to work in a team. I will share the rubrics that I have borrowed,
modified, and created to implement this assessment the past two semesters.
9:50-10 a.m. Assessing Undergraduate Physics
Program Learning Objectives at UC Merced
Contributed – Carrie A. Menke, University of California, Merced, 5200 N.
Lake Rd., Merced, CA 95343;
Establishing and assessing program learning objectives (PLOs) provides a
research-based method to improve our undergraduate physics education.
We have five PLOs: (1) physical principles, (2) mathematical expertise,
(3) experimental techniques, (4) communication and teamwork, and (5)
research proficiency. We use a six-stage assessment cycle for each PLO
that either validates current practice or drives needed modifications to
our assessment process and/or program. We focus on one PLO each year
and have just finished our first assessment of each. Our approach strives
to maximize the ease and applicability of our assessment practices while
maintaining faculty’s flexibility in course design and delivery. A curriculum
matrix elucidates skills development and applicable evidence. Descriptive
rubrics result in higher inter-rater reliability and, in some cases, can be
utilized at the course and program levels.
aaptmeeting/pactools/chairtool-abstracts.cfm?listorder=s2Utilizing exist-
ing campus resources, challenges with evidence & rubrics, and strategies
for increasing student and faculty participation are also discussed.
Session DE: Developing Experimen-
tal Skills in the Introductory Lab
Location: STSS 412
Sponsor: Committee on Laboratories
Date: Tuesday, July 29
Time: 8–10 a.m.
Presider: Mary Ann Klassen
8-8:30 a.m. First-Year Undergraduate Physics Labs:
Constructing Knowledge and Understanding of Science
Invited – Paul van Kampen, CASTeL & School of Physical Sciences, Dublin
City University, Dublin 9, Ireland;
We have restructured the first-year undergraduate physics labs which cater
for >300 non-physics majors. The labs were designed to be an enjoyable
experience that helps students develop transferrable experimental skills,
scientific skills (hypothesis testing, controlling variables, interpreting and
drawing conclusions from their own experimental data), see science as a
process of inquiry, address some conceptual difficulties, and enable them to
carry out quasi-independent investigations. Over the course of a semester,
the labs become less guided and less scaffolded while the students are given
increasing levels of autonomy. Online pre-tests along with weekly surveys
are used to assess the student’s attainment, attitudes, experiences, and
conceptual development. Student feedback has shown that the labs have
been transformed into a more enjoyable experience where transferable
experimental skills are developed. In this talk I will present an overview
of the labs, where they have been successful, and aspects that need to be
further developed.
8:30-8:40 a.m. Weaving Experimental Skills Throughout
the Introductory Laboratory
Contributed – John W. Zwart, Dordt College, Sioux Center, IA 51250; john.
The laboratory portion of an introductory course sequence can be used to
meet a wide variety of goals ranging from illustrating phenomena studied
in class, to building intuition about how the physical world works, to
confronting the unexpected. Helping students develop experimental skills
is a crucial goal that needs to be addressed in lab, especially in light of the
fact that most introductory textbooks do not specifically address this topic.
Important skills that students should learn in lab include how to analyze
data, how to communicate results and the art of designing an experiment.
This presentation will discuss how we weave an experimental skills thread
through our introductory lab sequence in order to help students develop
these key skills. See
/ for implementation
8:40-8:50 a.m. Structured Progression in a Sophomore-
level Experimental Physics Course
Contributed – Ananda Shastri, Minnesota State University Moorhead, 1104
7th Ave. South, Moorhead, MN 56563;
What is the best way to structure increasing complexity into a sophomore-
level experimental physics course? A set of experiments used at Minnesota
State University Moorhead will be described. The course revolved around
the central question: what is the criterion for two measurements to be
considered significantly different? Before the semester began, key ideas
from the student lab manual, textbook, and homework problems were pri-
oritized. Experiments were classified as beginning, intermediate, and ad-
vanced. Expectations of student performance were gradually increased. An
example of course’s structured progression will be given from oscilloscope
training to the construction of an electrocardiogram monitoring system.
8:50-9 a.m. Developing Design Skills in the
Introductory Lab
Contributed – Joseph F. Kozminski, Lewis University, Romeoville, IL 60446;
Building design skills into the introductory lab can be challenging for a va-
riety of reasons. For example, the laboratory activities need to be well-scaf-
folded, and additional mentoring is needed during the lab periods so that
the students are challenged but not unduly frustrated with their laboratory
experience. For the last two years, much work has gone into restructuring
the introductory lab and redesigning many of the laboratory activities to
include design elements at Lewis University. In this talk, the design-related
lab goals, some of the laboratory activities, and the mentoring required in
such a lab will be discussed. How incorporating a design component has
impacted the development of other important skills like collaboration,
troubleshooting, making measurements, data analysis, and error analysis
will be considered. And preliminary E-CLASS results indicating some early
success in implementing these labs will be presented.
9-9:10 a.m. Developing Data Analysis Skills Using
Scientific Learning Community Labs
Contributed – Adam C. Lark, University of Toledo, Toledo, OH 43606;
Scientific Learning Community (SLC) Labs were implemented for The
University of Toledo’s calculus-based introductory physics class. Students
in these laboratories must design their own experiments, take meaningful
data, and analyze that data to make conclusions about the concepts they
are learning in laboratory that day. Interviews were conducted on students
in both our traditional laboratories and SLC laboratories at the begin-
ning and end of the semester. Interviewers asked students questions about
how they would interpret and process a set of data. Using the hierarchy
developed by Fred Lubben, these interviews were coded and compared
showing the development of students’ understanding of uncertainty and
data analysis skills through the semester.
9:10-9:20 a.m. ISLE-inspired Pilot Program at Princeton
University: Year One Results
Contributed – Katerina Visnjic, Princeton University, Department of Physics,
Princeton, NJ 08544-1098;
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