| Physics 115: Inquiry
1) Attend the course meetings and participate in discussions and labs. There's no textbook; the content is what we do during course meeetings. So you really need to be there.Textbook and materials: There is no textbook for the course. There will be some readings as we go, which I'll distribute with photocopies in class or using this website.
2) Write and revise weekly "essay sets," each about five pages long. In a typical week, you'll be starting a new assignment and revising one you've worked on before. I'll post the assignments on this web site.
3) Read and comment on essay drafts and revisions by other students. In a typical week, you'll be reading each others' essays and writing comments on them.
4) Take two exams (one mid-course and one at the end). They'll count equally.
I'll base your course grades equally on essays, participation, and exams.Special Needs
As much as possible, I'd like to keep everyone's attention on the substance of what we're doing rather than on grades. In the end, that leads to the highest quality of work. For this reason, I don't like to put grades on individual assignments, either as letters or as points. My experience with that is it distracts from what this is all supposed to be about, learning science, not accumulating points. So you'll find lots of written comments on your assignments, but no summative letters or points.
I know this isn't what you're used to, and I'm happy to speak with you about it, including to talk about your grade if you're concerned. I will score exams in the conventional way, and at midterm I'll hand out my estimate of your grade so far.
If you have any special needs relevant to this course, please contact me so we can figure out the best way to accomodate them.Education research
In fact, if you have any thoughts or concerns or suggestions at all, please let me know. I will be asking for feedback along the way, but you don't have to wait for me to ask. I may not do exactly what you ask, but I will definitely hear what you have to say and think about it.
My research is in physics education — I study how students learn (or don't) and try to figure out better ways to teach. I'm hoping to use this course to collect data, which means I'll ask your permission to videotape class as well as to make photocopies of your written work. Whether or not you give me permission will have no effect at all on your grade or what we do in class.Finally, please see the University policy regarding the Honor Pledge.
I should say, though, that I'm not going to be "experimenting" on you with new techniques. The different approach we take in this course has lots of research and evidence already behind it; we're doing these things because we already know them to be much more effective than traditional instruction. On this as on any aspect of the course, please don't hesitate to speak with me.