Open Source Tutorials

Developed by: Rachel E. Scherr and Andrew Elby

middle schoolhigh schoolintro collegeinter-mediateupper levelgrad school   other

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

Mechanics  Electricity / Magnetism  Waves / Optics  Pedagogy
Lecture - Large (30+ students)  Lecture - Small (<30 students)  Recitation/Discussion Session  Lab  Homework  Studio

What? Guided-inquiry worksheets for small groups in recitation section of intro algebra-based physics. Instructors engage groups in Socratic dialogue. Tutorials refine students' productive intuitions and develop metacognitive thinking. Includes resources to help instructors modify tutorials and train TAs.

Why? Focus on building students' productive ideas rather than confronting misconceptions, which can help build confidence and enjoyment. Free and open source. Can be adapted to your environment. Include interactive lecture demonstrations, test questions, instructor guides, and TA training lessons.

Why not? These tutorials are designed for algebra-based physics courses, and may not work as well with other populations. The research base is not as strong as for Tutorials in Introductory Physics.

Example materials


Topic outline

Suite I:

01 Position and Velocity

02 Velocity and Acceleration

03 Newton Two

04 Newton Three

05 Free Body Diagrams

06 Momentum

07 Work and Energy

08 Pressure 

Suite II:

01 Torque

02 Pulses

03 Electrostatics

04 Electric Fields

05 Electric Potential

Student skills developed

Designed for:
  • Conceptual understanding
  • Making real-world connections
  • Using multiple representations
  • Building models
  • Metacognition

Instructor effort required

  • Medium

Resources required

  • TAs / LAs

Developer's website: Open Source Tutorials
Intro Article: R. Scherr and A. Elby, Enabling Informed Adaptation of Reformed Instructional Materials, presented at the Physics Education Research Conference 2006, Syracuse, New York, 2006.

You can download the full set of tutorials, tutorial homework, accompanying interactive lecture demonstrations, test questions, instructor's guides for free from the PhysPort Open Source Tutorial curriculum page. You can find materials for TA training workshops using the Open Source Tutorials from Periscope.

Silver Validation
This is the second highest level of research validation, corresponding to:
  • at least 1 of the "based on" categories
  • at least 2 of the "demonstrated to improve" categories
  • at least 4 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