Guided group work for graduate core courses

developed by Christopher D. Porter, Taylor Murphy, Humberto Gilmer, and Andrew Heckler

The PER team at The Ohio State University (OSU) developed guided group material for common graduate-level core courses: Classical Mechanics, Statistical Mechanics, Quantum Mechanics, and Electricity and Magnetism. The development process began with classroom observations, both at OSU and at collaborating institutions. We then used a combination of open-ended interviews, and think-aloud interviews with draft material to identify key areas of student difficulty. These materials were implemented in group work sessions for OSU physics graduate students and materials were iterated for 3-6 years (depending on the OSU course). Questions, short keys for students, and full worked solutions for instructors are available.

In some cases, materials take the form of scaffolded, single-topic lessons that might rightly be called a tutorial. This is particularly true of most of the materials in statistical mechanics. In other cases, we have needed to work to accommodate multiple topics presented by a lecturer in a given week, such that "tutorial" is not quite appropriate. We have general implementation notes, but not individual item notes.

The quantum mechanics materials and their effectiveness at increasing students' performance on a conceptual assessment of quantum mechanics were the subject of a peer-reviewed paper here.

General Implementation Notes

Classical Mechanics

Electricity and Magnetism

Quantum Mechanics

Statistical Mechanics

These materials arose as part of OSU's APS Bridge Program with support from the departmental teaching funds. Early work was partially supported by OSU's Center for Emergent Materials, an NSF MRSEC (award number DMR-2011876). The bulk of this development was supported by the NSF Innovations in Graduate Education NRT award (award number 1735027).