Intermediate Mechanics Tutorials

Developed by: Michael C. Wittmann and Bradley S. Ambrose

middle schoolhigh schoolintro collegeinter-mediateupper levelgrad school   other

Lecture - Small (<30 students)  Recitation/Discussion Session  Homework  Studio

What? Small-group learning materials for teaching intermediate mechanics. A mix of conceptual, mathematical, and problem-solving activities, as well as related research results, examination questions, and suggested course outlines. Newtonian focus with very little Lagrangian formalism.

Example materials


Curriculum outline

  • Velocity-dependent forces (2 tutorials)
  • Oscillations: Simple harmonic and non-harmonic oscillations (3 tutorials)
  • Oscillations: Damped and/or forced oscillations (4 tutorials)
  • Oscillations: Phase space diagrams (3 tutorials)
  • Vector force fields (3 tutorials)
  • Orbital mechanics and central forces (4 tutorials)
  • Non-inertial reference frames (3 tutorials)
  • Generalized coordinates and Lagrangians (2 tutorials)

Instructor effort required

  • Medium

Developer's website: Intermediate Mechanics Tutorials
Intro Article: B. Ambrose, Learning about Student Learning in Intermediate Mechanics: Using Research to Improve Instruction, presented at the Physics Education Research Conference 2009, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 2009.

You can download the Intermediate Mechanics Tutorials for free from the developers' website.

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