2007 Committee on Physics in Undergraduate Education

The CPUE mission is threefold. (1) To provide a forum for consideration of topics relevant to undergraduate instruction in physics in two-year colleges, four-year colleges, and universities. (2) In cooperation with the High School, Two-Year College and Graduate Education Committees, to seek ways of improving articulation for students progressing from one level to another. (3) To aid in keeping the AAPT membership informed of ways in which the teaching of physics at the undergraduate level may be facilitated. Overview of Activity: The CPUE sponsored and co-sponsored several sessions and workshops at the 2007 Winter and Summer Meetings (fulfills Items #1 and #3 of the mission), made a recommendation regarding support for the 2008 Gordon Conference (fulfills Items #1 and #3 of the mission), and developed a proposal to form an Upper Level Undergraduate Curriculum Task Force (fulfills Items #1 and #2 of the mission). The development of the proposal was featured in a fall issue of Interactions in an article written by Steve Davolt.

Committee meetings were held at the Winter Meeting in Seattle (6 of 9 members attended, along with at least 10 friends) and in the Summer Meeting in Greensboro (6 of 9 members attended, along with at least 13 friends). In Seattle, vigorous discussion of the “doubling initiative” occurred, both pro and con (fulfills Item #1 of the mission). In Greensboro, there was discussion of an upcoming effort to organize a conference to reconsider the introductory course for the life sciences because of related reform efforts of the life science community, and there was lively discussion of the draft proposal of the proposal to form an Upper Level Undergraduate Curriculum Task Force (fulfills Items #1 and #2 of the mission).

Details: In Greensboro, we sponsored, or co-sponsored the following. Tutorial: “Creating Java Simulations for Physics Teaching with Easy Java Simulations”; Workshops: “Learning Physics while Practicing Science” and “Using RTOP to Improve Physics and Physical Science Learning”; Sessions: “Mentoring Students in Undergraduate Research”, “Integrating Computation into the Curriculum”, “The Art and Science of Teaching”, “Introductory College Physics Textbooks: Current Role and Future Possibilities”.

In Baltimore, we sponsored, or co-sponsored the following. Tutorial: “Civic Engagement and Service Learning: The SENCER Project”; Workshops: “Modeling Mechanics from Free Fall to Chaos”, “Art of Approximation in Science and Engineering”. Sessions: “UG Student Research – SPS Poster Session”, “UG Student Research – SPS Oral Session”, “Award-Winning UG Research Programs”, “The Best of comPADRE”, “Statistical and Thermal Physics in the UG Curriculum”, “RTOP Implementation to Improve Teaching and Learning”, “Information Fluency and Physics Curriculum”.

Ongoing Activities The proposal for the Upper Level Undergraduate Curriculum Task Force was not formally approved by a vote of the committee in 2007. The committee has sought feedback from other potentially affected committees continues to revise this proposal and also to explore alternative ways (e.g., ongoing invited panel sessions followed by crackerbarrel sessions) of advancing substantive discussion about the upper level undergraduate curriculum.

Submitted by Ernie Behringer


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Last updated 05/21/2009