Physics by Inquiry

developed by: Lillian C. McDermott, Peter S. Shaffer and the Physics Education Group at UW

middle schoolhigh schoolintro collegeinter-mediateupper levelgrad school   other

 Intro College Conceptual

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

What? A lab-based guided-inquiry curriculum for future and current teachers to develop deep understanding of physics content and scientific reasoning skills. Students make observations, develop physical concepts, use and interpret scientific representations, and construct predictive explanatory models.

Student skills developed

Designed for:
  • Conceptual understanding
  • Making real-world connections
  • Using multiple representations
  • Designing experiments
  • Metacognition

Instructor effort required

  • High

Resources required

  • Simple lab equipment
  • Cost for students
  • Tables for group work

Developer's website: PBI
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