Presentation on theme: "Assessing the Benefits and Challenges of Implementing an IPLS Course at Randolph-Macon College Dr. Deonna Woolard Department of Physics, Randolph-Macon."— Presentation transcript:
Assessing the Benefits and Challenges of Implementing an IPLS Course at Randolph-Macon College Dr. Deonna Woolard Department of Physics, Randolph-Macon College, Ashland, VA Abstract Prior to 2003, the Physics Department offered one section of General Physics and Physics for Scientists each semester. Staffing issues forced the Department to redesign the intro courses resulting in the creation of PHYS Introductory Physics which serves Physics, Engineering Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Pre-Med, Environmental Studies, and general education students simultaneously. Presently, the Department offer two sections (24 students per section) of PHYS each semester. Over the past few years the College has seen a growth in enrollment, an increased number of students seeking pre-med and pre-health careers, and the addition of an Engineering Physics major. Demand for PHYS has increased to the point where three sections should be offered. Because the new Engineering Physics major will add another faculty member to the Physics Department, it is time to assess our intro physics course and how it meets, or does not meet, the needs of our students. Department Overview Staff of 3 tenured/tenure-track faculty Majors: Physics and Engineering Physics (established in 2012) Minors: Astrophysics, Physics, Engineering Physics 10 year average of 4 majors/year Randolph-Macon College Undergraduate Liberal Arts College Affiliated with the United Methodist Church Student population over full-time faculty Student/faculty ratio per FTE of History of Introductory Physics at R-MC Switch from Traditional Style to Studio-Model in 1996 Prior to 2003 one section of each PHYS : algebra based course for students with general interests in science or pursuing a health science career PHYS : calculus based course for students interested in majoring in physics, chemistry, computer science, or interested in the 3-2 engineering program; co-req was Calculus I & II PHYS 101/102 and 111/112 scheduled at the same time and in same classroom; common mini-lectures but different activities Students benefited from having two faculty members in the classroom for assistance Switched to PHYS in 2003 because of Increased need for general physics seats Increased staffing demands 2 faculty for 24 students (101/111 model) versus 2 faculty for 48 students (151 model) Benefit of switch – exposing more students to physics Drawback of switch: Same physics content to all students Revised teaching model based on Studio Physics Current Introductory Physics Courses at R-MC Studio-like model (3-2hr meetings per week, mini-lectures, group work, clickers, no-specific lab day) Two sections of PHYS each semester Mainly algebra based but calculus discussion within lectures Mixed student population: Physics, Engineering Physics, Astrophysics, Chemistry, Pre-health, and general education students Because of our current track schedule and the Freshman Seminar Section 01: mainly freshman majors Section 02: mainly pre-med and chemistry majors Common course schedule between sections but some latitude with material selection based on student interest Foresee future need of three PHYS 151 sections Current PHYS text Implementing an IPLS Course at R-MC Benefits Section 02 could be easily converted to an IPLS course Section 01 would focus on topics appropriate to the physics and engineering physics students Non-physics students may discover stronger connections of the course material to their disciplines Challenges and Questions: Would the IPLS course meet the needs of our chem majors? Would the IPLS course be appropriate for general education? Should the IPLS course be taught in the traditional or studio style model? What type of course development is needed for IPLS?