Re-designing Upper-division Physics Labs to Target 21st Century Competencies

TitleRe-designing Upper-division Physics Labs to Target 21st Century Competencies
Faculty/College/UnitScience
StatusActive
Duration3 Years
Initiation04/01/2019
Funding Details
Year 1: Project YearYear 1
Year 1: Funding Year2019/2020
Year 1: Project TypeLarge TLEF
Year 1: Principal InvestigatorDoug Bonn
Year 1: Funded Amount75,443
Year 1: Team Members

Douglas Andrew Bonn, Physics and Astronomy, Faculty of Science
Carl Michal, Associate Professor, Physics and Astronomy, Faculty of Science
David Jones, Associate Professor, Physics and Astronomy, Faculty of Science
Joss Ives, Senior Instructor, Physics and Astronomy, Faculty of Science
Josh Folk, Associate Professor, Physics and Astronomy, Faculty of Science
Kathleen Foote, Science Education Specialist, Physics and Astronomy, Faculty of Science

Year 1: Summary

Following successful restructuring of first-year labs to emphasize inquiry and the scientific process (Holmes, Ives & Bonn, 2014), this project will develop project-based labs with skills modules to improve the authenticity and coherence of the upper division lab experience in Physics and Astronomy. This proposal coincides with renovations to the Hebb building to create an inspiring, student-centered space with easy access to equipment, enabling student autonomy in experimental projects. This TLEF will redesign the lab curriculum and pedagogy to align with the space’s philosophical design, and the departmental effort to articulate and implement skill-based degree outcomes. This will include increasing student autonomy in design, confidence and improved scholarly communication.

We plan to develop modules to teach essential skills. Experiments will shift to more open-ended challenges to promote student ownership, discovery and creativity in design. Students will engage in collaborative, iterative work such as troubleshooting, problem solving and continuous improvement, which more authentically mirrors scientific research. We will improve continuity and scaffold skill building between courses.