2010 Committee on Physics in Undergraduate Education

1. Goals

a. Current Year: Goals for 2010:

The general goals of the CPUE are to organize excellent sessions and workshops for the national meetings of the AAPT, work with other AAPT committees and the Executive Board, and address specific issues as they arise. The last included finalizing the statement on Undergraduate Research Experiences (URE); fostering ideas on reforming the introductory physics course for life science majors (IPLS); allowing more contributed talks particularly on upper level undergraduate physics; working on issues at the interfaces of undergraduate education, specifically at the high school, two-year, and graduate levels; and providing information on applications of physics in industry.

b. Next Year: Goals for 2011 and beyond:

The general goals of the CPUE are to organize excellent sessions and workshops for the national meetings of the AAPT, work with other AAPT committees and the Executive Board, and address specific issues as they arise. The last included finalizing the statement on Undergraduate Research Experiences (URE); fostering ideas on reforming the introductory physics course for life science majors (IPLS); allowing more contributed talks particularly on upper level undergraduate physics; working on issues at the interfaces of undergraduate education, specifically at the high school, two-year, and graduate levels; and providing information on applications of physics in industry.

1. Goals

The long-range goal of our committee is to improve the undergraduate physics education by getting feedbacks from committee members, organizing excellent sessions, workshops, and tutorials for the national meetings of the AAPT, and also working closely with other AAPT committees and Executive Board.

2. Activities/Accomplishments in 2010

a. Committee Meetings/Communications (Type: Combination) --

Activity in 2010. Committee meetings were held at the Winter meeting in Washington, DC on February 15, 2010 and at the Summer meeting in Portland on July 18, 2010 (6 of 9 members attending plus >8 friends). Vigorous discussions occurred in both committee meetings in addition to discussions on the listserv throughout the year.

b. New Ideas --

Upcoming activities and new ideas

  1. April 2011 APS meeting in Anaheim. CPUE will have a session entitled Best Practices in Undergraduate Research Experiences.
  2. S2011 CPUE is cosponsoring a session connected with the 2010 Gordon Conference on labs in undergraduate education.
  3. W2012 Bob Hilborn and Ruth Howes will run a session on SPIN-UP Ten Years Later.
  4. Discussions are beginning on how CPUE can work with Project Kaleidoscope.
  5. Discussions are occurring again on thawing the syllabus in introductory physics courses.

c. Sessions/Workshops --

Sessions and Workshops in 2010.

In general, CPUE has been able to fill its quota of sessions and workshops. There are so many ideas by committee members and friends that we need to have co-sponsorship to implement everything. Feedback on sessions and workshops is incomplete, but here a few notes:

  1. Workshops seem to be well-attended, based on feedback from a subset of organizers.
  2. The IPLS sessions have been well-attended. Sessions IV and V are planned for 2011. A corresponding workshop on IPLS labs was conducted in S2010.
  3. Contributed sessions on upper-level undergraduate physics were made available in W2010, S2010 with another in W2011. Approximately 11 and 9 contributed talks were listed in S2010, W2011. The attendance was so large, I was unable to count the number of people. Because contributed sessions enable the broader physics community to show their ideas, I tried to move a session on upper level undergraduate physics out of the CPUE quota and into the list of generic sessions that will be part of every AAPT meeting from now on. This was accomplished, and the first time this new system will be tested will be in S2011 in Omaha.
  4. The transition between undergraduate education and high schools, two-year, and graduate schools is an important issue. A session was scheduled in S2010 with others in W2011, S2011.
  5. Applications of physics in industry. In S2010, CPUE sponsored a session on Physics and Technological Innovation in the Pacific Northwest I, II; there was another session on Physics and Commercialization. There appears to be student interest in non-teaching careers involving physics. See comments by students in
    http://www.spsnational.org/meetings/reports/2010/aapt_smr03.htm and
    http://www.spsnational.org/meetings/reports/2010/aapt_smr02.htm.
    I received feedback that a session on alternative careers could be of interest with talks by headhunters and recruiters.
  6. The session on Dealing with Mathematical Difficulties in Lower and Upper Division Physics Courses had a surprisingly large attendance. This appears to be a topic of considerable interest.

d. Other Activities --

Adoption of an AAPT statement on undergraduate research experiences At the Winter 2010 meeting, the CPUE committee members were notified that the following statement was adopted by the AAPT Executive Board on Nov. 1, 2009:

The American Association of Physics Teachers urges that every physics and astronomy department provide its majors and potential physics majors with the opportunities and encouragement to engage in a meaningful and appropriate undergraduate research experience. (http://www.aapt.org/Resources/policy/ugresearch.cfm)

This website also includes the rationale.

Other

  1. Invited speakers. There was an active email discussion on whether non-member, invited speakers should receive complimentary registration. Comments were sent to the Executive Board. Ultimately a decision was made to allow complimentary registration.
  2. The Physics course and the Good Teacher. CPUE was asked to provide feedback on this document; no one gave a response.
  3. Web-based forms. No one in CPUE provided feedback on the forms.

3. Recommendations

a. Recommendation to the AAPT Executive Board

The sessions and workshops should be visible to the world on the web after the abstract submission deadline has passed and for months preceding the meeting date. This could potentially draw more people to attend the meetings and become members. (This recommendation was not vetted by CPUE.)


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