Physics by Inquiry

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

Level
 
middle schoolhigh schoolintro collegeinter-mediateupper levelgrad school   other


 Intro College Conceptual
conceptual

Topics
Mechanics  Electricity / Magnetism  Waves / Optics  Thermal / Statistical  Astronomy
Setting
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.

Example materials

 

Curriculum outline

VOLUME I:

PROPERTIES OF MATTER

Measurements of Matter
Pure Substances
Scientific Representations
Solutions of Solids in Water
Solutions of Solids, Liquids, and Gases

HEAT AND TEMPERATURE

Measurements of Heat and Temperature
Thermal Properties of Matter

LIGHT AND COLOR

Light and Shadows
Pigments and Colored Light

MAGNETS

Behavior of Magnets
Magnetic Materials

ASTRONOMY BY SIGHT: THE SUN, MOON, AND STARS

VOLUME II:

ELECTRIC CIRCUITS

Behavior of Simple Electric Circuits
Measurements of Current and Resistance
Measurement of Voltage
Batteries and Bulbs in Everyday Life

ELECTROMAGNETS

LIGHT AND OPTICS

Plane Mirrors and Images
Lenses, Curved Mirrors, and Images

KINEMATICS

Motion with Constant Speed
Motion with Changing Speed
Graphical Representations of Motion
Algebraic Representations of Motion

ASTRONOMY BY SIGHT: THE EARTH AND THE SOLAR SYSTEM

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

Physics by Inquiry comes in two volumes of books published by Pearson. You can order them from Pearson (Vol. I and Vol. II) or from Amazon (Vol. I and Vol. II). You can download a sample excerpt from PhysPort.

The developers recommend visiting the Physics Education Group at the University of Washington to learn how to implement this curriculum.

RESEARCH VALIDATION
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