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Modular approach to Enhancing First Year Experience in Science (2010/11)

Published on: Thu, 05/06/2010
Last Modified: Fri, 06/17/2011 - 2:22pm

$10,000 one-time, $10,500 base

The university environment, with its large, impersonal classes and heightened expectations, takes a toll particularly in mathematics and the mathematical sciences of physics and chemistry. Students come to the University from diverse backgrounds, and student preparation is immensely varied. This proposal will provide supplementary interactive modules to address individual weaknesses in student background knowledge for the introductory course in physics. Modules will be developed in close consultation with first-year instructors which would typically be delivered in 3 parts: (1) a warm-up session, with practice covering necessary basics; (2) a one-hour intensive in-class tutorial workshop, given weekly by a senior faculty member assisted by specially trained TAs; and (3) a follow-up exercise to ingrain the newly acquired expertise. 

Update: November 30, 2010

To date there has been introduction of online weekly homework, resource offering through this website (Wiley Plus), and appointment of Dr. Reddish as lead to develop and implement the supplementary modules and on-line material. It is anticipated that the modules and materials will be ready for Winter 2011, specific tutorial time will be set, discussions are ongoing with Wiley Plus to extend resource offering and a TA will be assigned to the project as well. Anticipated spending to the end of the fiscal year is $20,500. There have been some delays in launching this initiative due to changes in Departmental Head; the initial scheme was put forward by Dr Koschinky and Dr Baylis. However, they are now on track in accordance with the proposed objectives. Budget total for 2010/11 is $ 15,000 for course release and salaries.

Update: April 30, 2011

A series of 6 tutorials was developed using WileyPlus resources and offered for the 64-131 and 64-141 students during the Winter 2011 term. The tutorial topics were chosen based on experience and knowledge of common student weaknesses on course material. Tutorials were offered every other week throughout the term with separate sessions and topics for the 64-131 and 64-141 sections. A diagnostic test was created and administered at the beginning of the term to help identify candidates for the voluntary tutorial program. A CLEW site was developed to host the tutorial materials and to allow communication (email, announcements, and polls) between the tutorial leaders and the students. The site was also linked to WileyPlus and Dr. Reddish’s ‘Concept Health Check’ website. The originally envisioned “modules” were not complete as the computer based preliminary exercises and follow-up exercises for each tutorial were not ready for the Winter 2011 term. The WileyPlus material is impressive and could, in the future, be organized into self-teaching units.

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