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In a recent article that appears on the Sigma Pi Sigma website that will later be distributed in print, UNC’s own Laurie McNeil writes about the many changes in the ever evolving methods of teaching Physics and how they are being implemented in undergraduate programs.

She begins by citing a model that explains how the traditional lecture hall model of teaching physics can often fall short when it comes to overall comprehension and retention by students.

A newer model that includes cooperative and hands-on learning may be more effective. Many institutions are evolving their teaching methods to include the professor asking students many questions throughout their lectures for students to discuss with partners than answer via a clicker to gauge where the overall class stands. Their is also the hands on component where large classes are broken down into smaller lab groups (say about nine) that sit together and work on more hands on experiments, pencil and paper tutorial activities and cooperative group problem solving.


Figure 1 – Comparison of results of the Force and Motion Conceptual Evaluation (FMCE) for classes taught by traditional and interactive engagement methods, taken from an analysis by Van Korff et al.10 of the results of the FMCE from about 150 college physics classes (around 14,000 students) at institutions across the country.

Reports are showing that potential employers are looking for people with physics based knowledge (gained through the traditional teaching methods), scientific and technical skills (including coding, data analytics, and instrumentation as well as the ability to solve ill-posed problems) communication skills (for all types of audiences) and professional and workplace skills (such as working in diverse teams, project management, and knowledge of career opportunities and job seeking) amongst other things, though many are not covered in traditional physics instruction. The hope is that students will gain the necessary knowledge through the ever evolving methods of teaching.

For full article please visit The Evolution of Physics Education: | Sigma Pi Sigma

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