Instructional Materials Development and Research
Physics Education Research over the past 15 years has developed superior ways of teaching physics at the introductory level. To stay current and competitive with other physics departments the the Ithaca College physics department faculty are interested in adopting and implementing the Studio Physics and SCALE-UP approach to teaching introductory physics at Ithaca College. We propose to call this approach Performance-Based Physics to highlight the College's mission of recognizing the value of combining theory and performance.
Rensselaer's Physics Education Group pioneered the "studio" approach to physics instruction. The defining characteristics of studio physics classes are integrated lecture/laboratory form, a reduction in lecture time, a technology-enhanced learning environment, collaborative group work, and a high level of faculty-student interaction. SCALE-UP (Student-Centered Activities for Large Enrollment Undergraduate Programs) developed at North Carolina State University expands the Studio Physics model to classrooms of 100 or more students.
To accommodate large enrollment classes our room contains 11 seven-foot-diameter tables with each table seating 9 students working in groups of 3 for a total of 99 students in the room. Each table has an associated 10.5-foot-wide storage cabinet along the walls of the room containing Pasco data collection equipment and whiteboard doors for solving physics problems.
We have moved all of our 100-level courses out of lecture halls and into this state-of-art learning environment. Ithaca College is first in offering general education astronomy and science of sound courses in this type of laboratory. We'll be studying the effectiveness of this method of teaching science over the next three years. We anticipate several national publications and presentations resulting from our innovative work.