Adaptable Curriculums for Introductory Physics (ACIP) Workshop
April 12 – 14, 2007 at Florence – Darlington Technical College, Florence, SC

Joshua Phiri, Florence-Darlington Technical College, Florence, SC
Paul D’Alessandris, Monroe Community College, Rochester, NY
Martin Mason, Mt. San Antonio College, Walnut, CA
Dwain Desbien, Estrella Mountain Community College, AZ
Tom O’Kuma, Lee College, Baytown, TX

This workshop will introduce and provide participants with experience in using several different curricular approaches to teaching algebra/trigonometry-based and calculus-based physics courses. Two approaches in particular will be extensively used during the workshop: a modular approach known as Introductory College Physics/Twenty First Century (ICP/21); and a spiral learning approach known as Spiral Physics.

The goal of this workshop is for the participants to become familiar with these curricular approaches, develop ways of using the approaches, and to continue working on these approaches after the workshop ends. Each participant will receive extensive ready-to-use curricula materials along with the rights to use them at their institution. In this workshop, participants will work in teams composed of two to four individuals under the guidance of the workshop leaders.

The ICP/21 modules were written with the technical (engineering and medical) student in mind. Each participant will work through selected modules in this new curricula that was developed by a group of two-year college physics professors led by Alexander Dickison of Seminole Community College in Sanford, Florida; Marvin Nelson of Green River Community College in Auburn, Washington; Pearly Cunningham of Community College of Alleghany County in West Mifflin, Pennsylvania; and Sherry Savrda of Seminole Community College.

Each ICP/21 module uses a series of learning cycles and incorporates many of the teaching techniques, developed by others, that are based on physics education research. Throughout the problem sets and examples in the modules, ICP/21 uses applications found in industry and medicine. The modular CD curriculum allows HS and TYC instructors the opportunity to choose several modules from the curricula that are particularly germane for their students. Each module is activity-based and utilizes a variety of tools to better motivate the student in the learning of key physics concepts. During this workshop, participants will also be introduced to project based learning using projects developed by the South Carolina Advanced Technological Education (SCATE) Center. To gain experience in project based learning, participants will work through a student project and have access to samples of already developed projects.

Spiral Physics developed by Paul D’Alessandris is a flexible introductory physics curriculum designed for use in both the algebra-based and calculus-based courses. Spiral Physics arranges topics so that students receive repeated exposure to concepts over an extended time interval, each time with an incremental increase in complexity. Designed to facilitate active learning, it makes use of alternative problem types, including goal-less problem statements and ranking tasks, in a multiple-representation format. The integrated text and workbook activities in Spiral Physics have been used at Monroe Community College since 1993.

The workshop leaders have many years of experience in developing and refining curriculum for introductory physics students. More importantly, the workshop leaders have had extensive experience with the implementation and adaptation of curriculum in a variety of institutions, and for many types of introductory physics students along with the training of faculty in using and developing their own curricula for technology-oriented students.

There will be ample opportunity to share and discuss issues relating to teaching physics more effectively (particularly for those students enrolled in technician/technology education programs), and how to use various strategies, tools, and tactics to overcome problems and barriers to learning at TYCs and HSs. Important issues such as standards, assessment, diversity, and technology utilization will be addressed at various points during the workshop. Discussion and information on the needs of the technological workforce and its connection with the activities of this workshop will also be presented.

The workshop’s local host will be Joshua Phiri who recently designed and setup his physics area around an adaptable curriculum. In 2005, the physics program at Florence-Darlington Technical College was selected as one of the outstanding technical TYC physics programs visited during the SPIN-UP/TYC project.

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