A New Model Course in Applied Quantum Physics
E.F. Redish, R.N. Steinberg, M.C. Wittmann

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Course Philosophy | Course Outline

Teacher's Guide

A focus on student learning requires that we listen to the students in our classroom and address their needs as best possible. We offer a variety of possible modifications to the course, including: 

  • replacing one hour of lecture with one hour of tutorial instruction.
  • implementing weekly essay homework assignments
  • using device-based extended homework assignments
  • assigning readings to supplement the textbook and tutorial.

The outline below summarizes the reasons for our modified instruction.

The instructional materials described below can be found in the Classroom Materials section of this CD. A complete summary organized by topic can be found here.

To view the video samples below, click on the images. QuickTime is necessary for viewing the videos.

Understanding Students

To teach our students more effectively, we must listen to how they think and how they approach the physics. These interactions occur informally in the classroom, but also more formally using a variety of methods.


To emphasize the importance of conceptual understanding, we use specially designed quizzes to probe student reasoning. Pretests contain qualitative questions and are given to students before tutorial (but typically after traditional instruction).

online essay assignments

To listen to students and gain regular feedback on lecture concepts, we have instituted daily (or weekly) essay assignments that address difficult concepts from the classroom. Essays can, for example, contain qualitative questions, ask about connections to real world situations, or focus on interpretations of material covered in class.

Engaging Students

To bring students into a culture of discussion and reasoning about the physics, we promote a group learning environment where students work on materials developed based on investigations into student learning and effective curriculum design and instruction.

tutorial materials

Tutorials are in-class worksheets guided by the findings of physics education research. Students discuss the physics in groups during class.

classroom interaction

Students are actively doing and discussing physics during class. Interactions occur both between students with no facilitator present, and with the facilitator who probes student thinking among the whole group.

(click on the images to view video of the classroom, Macintosh users may require extensions available from Apple to play Intel Indeo codec movies)

Student-student interaction (lo-memory video)Student-student interaction

Student-facilitator interaction during tutorial (lo-memory video)Student-facilitator interaction

Applied Assignments

To extend ideas covered in tutorial, students answer homework questions that make connections between concepts stressed in tutorial and quantitative skills stressed in traditional textbook problems.

Tutorial homework

Students participating in tutorials leave class with a homework assignment designed to help them develop their conceptual understanding of the material they discussed in class.

Applied homework

To make connections between classroom concepts and everyday life, we have developed homeworks that focus on quantum devices used in research and technology.

Evaluating Students

To emphasize the importance of conceptual understanding, one question on every examination comes directly from material emphasized in tutorial. Other questions focus on skills developed in the essay questions (e.g. relating phenomena to real-world examples). By testing those elements that we use in class, we emphasize their importance to students.

The instructional materials described above can be found in the Classroom Materials section of this CD. A complete summary organized by topic can be found here.



Page last modified 2k1 Mar 8