Activity-Based Tutorials, Volume 1: Introductory Physics

Developed by: Michael C. Wittmann, Richard N. Steinberg, Edward F. Redish, and the Physics Education Research Group at the University of Maryland

middle schoolhigh schoolintro collegeinter-mediateupper levelgrad school   other

 Intro College Calculus-based
calc based
 Intro College Algebra-based
alg based

Mechanics  Electricity / Magnetism  Waves / Optics  Thermal / Statistical
Lecture - Small (<30 students)  Recitation/Discussion Session  Studio

What? Guided-inquiry worksheets for use in small groups in recitation section of intro calculus-based physics. Instructors engage groups in Socratic dialogue. Activities emphasize the connection between mathematics and physics, and use computer-based tools to help in easy data gathering.

Example materials


Topic outline

Force and Motion
Newton’s Third Law
Mechanics Problems
Air Resistance
Harmonic Motion
Wavepulses: Propagation & Superposition
Mathematics of Wavepulses
Sound Waves
Heat and Temperature
Electric Field
Electric Potential
Electrostatics Problem Solving
Inductive Circuits Problem Solving

Student skills developed

Designed for:
  • Conceptual understanding
  • Making real-world connections
  • Using multiple representations
Can be adapted for:
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Metacognition

Instructor effort required

  • Medium

Resources required

  • TAs / LAs
  • Computers for students
  • Advanced lab equipment
  • Cost for students
  • Tables for group work

You can download the tutorials, pre-tests, and homework for free from the Activity-Based Tutorials website. You will need to contact Joe Redish for the password, following the instructions on the site. You can download a sample tutorial from PhysPort.

These tutorials have also been published as a book that you can order from Wiley or from Amazon.

Bronze Validation
This is the third highest level of research validation, corresponding to:
  • at least 1 of the "based on" categories
  • at least 1 of the "demonstrated to improve" categories
  • at least 1 of the "studied using" categories
(Categories shown below)

Research Validation Summary

Based on Research Into:

  • theories of how students learn
  • student ideas about specific topics

Demonstrated to Improve:

  • conceptual understanding
  • problem-solving skills
  • lab skills
  • beliefs and attitudes
  • attendance
  • retention of students
  • success of underrepresented groups
  • performance in subsequent classes

Studied using:

  • cycle of research and redevelopment
  • student interviews
  • classroom observations
  • analysis of written work
  • research at multiple institutions
  • research by multiple groups
  • peer-reviewed publication