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11:30 AM - 1:00 PM
3405 Engineering Building
428 S Shaw Ln East Lansing, MI 48824
Expectations of Academic Institutions, Teaching and mentoring students

Modeling + Computation: Project-based Learning in Introductory Physics

Abstract  Most introductory science courses emphasize the acquisition of conceptual and procedural knowledge, but fail to prepare students to engage in the practices of science (e.g., developing and using models, constructing explanations of phenomenon). Introductory courses also tend towards ignoring the socio-cultural aspects of learning such as encouraging students to develop their science identity.  This overemphasis on content learning stems from an incomplete theory of learning. We have designed a new introductory mechanics course, piloted in the fall of 2014 and offered again this semester, that engages students in science practice through the use of modeling projects. By engaging students in the authentic practices of a scientist, we aim to help students develop their science identity while they also appropriate the practices and understanding of a scientist. The projects require students to negotiate meaning in small groups, develop a shared vision for their group's approach, and employ science practices to successfully navigate their projects. The projects the groups are presented with are designed to be sufficiently complex so that students must make use of both analytical and computational techniques. In this interactive workshop, we will present the motivation for and structure of this new course including preliminary data on student performance, engagement, and identity development. In addition, workshop participants will engage in a short modeling project that demonstrates the student experience in the course, and provides an opportunity for discussing transformed teaching practices. This work was funded by LPF-CMP2 Innovation grant.