Remodeling University Physics  
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  Remodeling University Physics Home Page Supported by NSF grant DUE-9952706
Principal investigators and workshop leaders are:
David Hestenes (PI)
Mike Politano (Co-PI)
Eric Brewe
Dwain Desbien

How have we remodeled University Physics?
Remodeling University Physics (RUP) was an NSF-supported project in physics education research to reform the structure and pedagogy of introductory physics courses at the college level. Key components of the reform include:

• studio classroom format
• systematic use of representational tools
• a unifying link between technology and pedagogy
• techniques for managing student discourse
• creation of a learning community
• modeling approach to problem solving
• integration of energy throughout the curriculum

How effective are Remodeled University Physics courses?
We began our program of research-based reform in 1995 in an honors section of University Physics at Arizona State University (ASU).  The honors section was chosen because of the small class size (~24 students).  The Force Concept Inventory (FCI) was given as both a pre-test and post-test in this section.  A comparison of the normalized Hake gain on the FCI in the ASU Honors course with courses using the traditional instruction and with other reform curricula is shown in the figure below.

graph of efficacy in RUF

In order to test whether the high gains were a result of the selective nature of the section, beginning in 1998, a non-honors section of University Physics at a local community college ( Chandler-Gilbert Community College [CGCC] ) was taught using the same method of instruction as in the ASU honors course.  The gains on the FCI for the CGCC course are shown in blue on the above figure.

The gain of 0.8 (with mean FCI posttest score of 89%) is the highest gain ever reported on the FCI.  Even more noteworthy is that of the 19 students in the CGCC section that achieved this extraordinary gain, 7 were female and 5 were Hispanic.

Both the ASU and CGCC sections scored among the highest in the nation on the Mechanics Baseline Test ( MBT ), a more quantitative measure of mechanics comprehension.

Want to learn more?
• Read or download a synopsis of a speech by David Hestenes on "Remodeling University Physics with PER."
• Download "Modeling Discourse Management" by Dwain Desbien (107 pages, PhD dissertation 2002, 288KB).
• Download "Inclusion Of The Energy Thread In College Modeling Instruction" by Eric Brewe (182 pages, PhD dissertation 2002).
• Read the case study by the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT):
"Estrella Mountain Community College" (p.69-72) in "Strategic Programs for Innovations in Undergraduate Physics at Two-Year Colleges: Best Practices of Physics Programs" (2005) at
•View QuickTime movies of Dwain Desbien using the Modeling Method of Instruction in his classroom.
•Take a workshop

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