Area Committee on Physics in Undergraduate Education

Chair’s Report 2001

The work of the committee focuses on four questions.

What is a "good education" in physics?

How can we help our students learn physics more effectively?

How can we make the study of physics the most challenging and engaging one possible for both faculty and students?

How can we better promote the study of physics at the undergraduate level?

These questions are not unique to the committee. Most of the physics community is working on them. But the Undergraduate Education Committee helps maintain the dialogue in the AAPT.

Part 1: Workshops and Sessions in 2001

Workshops: The workshop is our primary method of providing additional education and training in areas useful to the teaching of the undergraduate curriculum. In 2001 we sponsored 13 workshops on bringing topics of advanced into the classroom, interpreting the results of physics educational research into the curriculum, adopting innovative teaching techniques in both the introductory sequence and the upper-level curriculum, and advancing the careers of undergraduate faculty.

Sessions: The sessions provide the committee the opportunity to focus the dialogue on physics throughout the undergraduate curriculum. In 2001 we sponsored 15 sessions covering advanced topics in physics, undergraduate research, teaching paradigms, science and society education, preparing pre-college teachers, the role of epistemology in the physics curriculum, and educational reform.

Part 2: Future Goals and Plans of the Undergraduate Education Committee:

Though this has been a quiet year for the committee, numerous issues loom on the horizon. The role of accreditation in the physics curriculum, the changing nature of the undergraduate curriculum, multi-track options for the physics major, the effectiveness of K-20 teacher preparation, career options for the physics major are only a few of the issues we have discussed and will continue to pursue.

Yet two questions remain.

Are we providing the workshops and sessions needed and desired by the membership?

How can we more effectively communicate the opportunities afforded by the workshops and sessions to the membership?

These questions will continue to dominate the minds of the committee as we go into the new year.

Submitted December 2001 ..... Juan R. Burciaga, Chair


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Last updated 12/20/2001