Assessment and Planning Department of Physics Ithaca College Spring 2010
Dan Briotta Andrew Crouse Beth Ellen Clark Joseph Luke Keller Matthew Price Michael ”Bodhi” Rogers Matthew C. Sullivan Bruce Thompson
1 Executive Summary
Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Our Vision, Mission, and Values . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Strategic Initiatives . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The Action Plan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Review of the 2004-2009 Five-Year Assessment and Planning . . . . . . . . .
Process of the 2009-2010 Five-Year Assessment and Planning . . . . . . . . .
Evidence for the Distinction of the Ithaca College Physics Department . . .
How Our Initiatives Make Us Innovative and How they Compare to Existing Efforts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
3 Report from External Reviewer Mark Schneider
4 Strategic Initiative 1: Graduate 15 Physics Majors per Year by 2015
Introduction and Rationale . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Establish a BA in Astronomy and a BS in Astrophysics . . . . . . . . . . . .
Retention . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Recruiting . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Marketing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
5 Strategic Initiative 2: Create a First-Rate Laboratory Experience Across the Physics Curriculum 29
Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Rationale . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Identify experimental skills all physics graduates should have and identify where in our four-course laboratory sequence (12000, 22500, 36000/32600, 45100) students learn, expand upon, and reinforce those skills. Modify our courses as needed to better educate our students. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Integrate Context-Rich problems and laboratory activities into the Principles of Physics sequence (PHYS 11700, 11800, 21700, 21800). . . . . . . . . . . .
Incorporate error analysis, formal laboratory report(s), laboratory notebooks, and project(s) into PHYS 22500 (DC/AC Circuits). . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Enhance the junior-level laboratory course by creating new experiments. . .
Ensure that the senior-level laboratory experience (PHYS 45100) keeps its focus on student-designed, open-ended projects. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Create a capstone experience for all Physics majors. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
6 Strategic Initiative 3: Create a Naked-Eye Observatory
Introduction and Rationale . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Timeline . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Educational Materials . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Learning Outcomes and Project Assessment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
7 Strategic Initiative 4: Establish an Integrated Physics and Astronomy Education Research and Materials Development Program 53 7.1
Background . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ithaca College’s Unique Position . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Develop a General Education Scientific Appreciation course . . . . . . . . . .
Develop an Instrument to Assess Student Understanding of the Nature of Science . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Longitudinal Study of Student Development of Experimental Skills . . . . .
Longitudinal Study of Student Shift from Novice to Expert Perspectives . . .
Longitudinal Study of Content Understanding of Physics Majors . . . . . . .
Conceptual Development in Introductory Courses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
International Physics Education Research . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
7.10 K-12 Teacher Training and Educational Opportunities for Students Thinking about Teaching at any Level . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
7.11 Resource Requirements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
7.12 Needs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
8 Strategic Initiative 5: Establish Educational Opportunities focused on Renewable Energy Technologies. 61 8.1
Introduction and Rationale . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
New Summer Preparatory Courses for Taking a Renewable Energy Certification Exam . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
9 Initiatives Continuing from the 2004 Assessment and Planning
Turn Up the Heat: General Education Courses with Laboratory Components
Ten by Ten: Establish Performance-based Physics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Build it, They Will Come: Refurbish and Maintain Machine Shop . . . . . .
10 Report Card on our 2004 Assessment and Planning Initiatives 10.1 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
10.2 Analysis of Assessment Results . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
10.3 Strategic Plan Scorecard . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
11 Annual Programmatic Assessment Process
11.1 Introduction and Rationale . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
11.2 Assessment Plan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12 Faculty and Staff
12.1 Staff Interviews . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
12.2 The Faculty Experience . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
13.1 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 155 13.2 Laboratory and Classroom Facilities Experience . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 155 13.3 Educational Experience in the Classroom . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 155 13.4 Experience in Research . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 156 13.5 Administrative Experience . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 156 13.6 Student Experience . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 157 13.7 Experience with the Departmental Socially . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 157
14.1 Report on “Where Are They Now?” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 159 14.2 Connectedness to the Department and the College . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 160 14.3 Financial Giving . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 160
15 Facilities and Infrastructure
15.1 Office and Administrative Space . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 161 15.2 Laboratory Specialist Space . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 162 15.3 General Education Service Courses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 163 15.4 Introductory Majors Courses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 164 15.5 Advanced Majors Courses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 165 15.6 Laboratory Courses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 165 15.7 Research . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 166 15.8 Storage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 168 15.9 Review of 2004-2010 Growth . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 169
16 Budget and Staffing
16.1 Budget Analysis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 171 16.2 Course Roster and Teaching Assignments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 171 16.3 Workload Assessment: What has Changed in the Past Five Years? . . . . . . 171 16.4 Offering a BA in Astronomy, a BS in Astrophysics, and Hiring an Eighth Tenure-Eligible Faculty Member . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 174
17 Facts and Figures
17.1 Undergraduate Admissions and Enrollment in Physics . . . . . . . . . . . . . 177 17.2 Trends in Our Introductory Courses for Scientists; PHYS 11700, 11800, 12000 179 17.3 Trends in Our General Education and Service Courses; PHYS 10100, 10200, 14300, 16000, 17100, 17200, 17400, 17500, 17600, 17700 . . . . . . . . . . . . 180 17.4 Trends in Our Sophomore Level Physics Courses; PHYS 21700, 21800, 22500 181
17.5 Trends in Our Upper-level Physics Courses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 182 17.6 Student Enrollment in Research Courses and Summer Internships . . . . . . 183 17.7 Masters of Arts in Teaching Degrees Conferred . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 184 17.8 Peer Institutions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 184
18 References Cited
A Current Student Responses to Questionnaire
A.1 Laboratory and Classroom Experience . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 187 A.2 Experience in the Classroom . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 190 A.3 Experience In Research . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 193 A.4 Administrative Experience . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 195 A.5 Student Experience . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 196 A.6 Social Aspects of the Department . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 200
B Assessment Report Submitted to the Administration Oct 15, 2009
C CV of External Evaluator Mark Schneider
D Useful Reading
D.1 SPIN-UP Report . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 227 D.2 American Institute of Physics - Physics Undergraduate Enrollment and Degrees, 2009 Report . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 227 D.3 Forum on Education, August 1997 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 227 D.4 Cur Quarterly - Fall 2009 - How to Talk with Administrators about Undergraduate Research . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 227 vi
Foreword: A Firm Foundation, Recent Growth, and an Aspirational Future Prepared by Michael ”Bodhi” Rogers In 1965 Ahren Sadoff joins Ithaca College as its first physics faculty member. From 1965 to 1973 the department–like many physics departments during this time period–expanded to six full time faculty members. Dan Briotta joins the department in 1982 as a seventh full time faculty member. Over the next decade the physics department builds a solid foundation for the physics majors and participates in the planning of a new science building (our current Center for Natural Sciences) that opens for business in 1992. In 1996 the department loses one tenure eligible position due to economic downsizing yet still stays mission-focused and opens the new Clinton B. Ford Observatory in 1998. For over 35 years the department has served the college and its majors well with a healthy curriculum and graduating five majors on average each year from 1984-2004. From 2000-2003, four of the founding faculty members retire and one unexpectedly passes away, leading to a series of faculty searches to bring the department up to six full time, tenure eligible members. The 2003-2004 assessment and planning occurred at a time when the new faculty could build on the strong history of the department, but also bring new ideas and energy to create a forward thinking vision for the department. The 2003-2004 A&P report put forth an ambitious agenda with some of the initiatives highlighted here:
• Increase the number of graduating majors to 10 by 2010 (
• Create a Performance-based Physics classroom using the Studio Physics /SCALE-UP models ( )
• Offer a Bachelors of Science in Physics major (
• Increase our emphasis on and opportunities for undergraduate research (
• Use programmatic assessment to make planned adjustments to our curriculum (on going) • Create a student room and strengthen our Society of Physics Students chapter ( • Secure a 7th tenure-eligble position to support our expanded curriculum (
We found the SPIN-UP study conducted by the National Task Force on Undergraduate Physics a useful source during our 2003-2004 planning. The SPIN-UP report identified several key features of thriving undergraduate physics programs:
• A widespread attitude among the faculty that the department has the primary responsibility for maintaining or improving the undergraduate program. That is, rather than complain about the lack of students, money, space and administrative support, the department initiated reform efforts in areas that it identified as most in need of change. • A challenging, but supportive and encouraging undergraduate program that includes a well-developed curriculum, advising, mentoring, an undergraduate research participation program, and many opportunities for informal student-faculty interactions, enhanced by a strong sense of community among the students and faculty. • Strong and sustained leadership within the department and a clear sense of the mission of its undergraduate program and how the department’s mission supports the mission of the institution. • A strong disposition towards continuous evaluation of and experimentation with the undergraduate program. • A coordinated and conscious effort to link various aspects of the undergraduate program so that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
These key features identified in the SPIN-UP report are reflected in the Ithaca College physics faculty and our department. This 2009-2010 Assessment and Planning report highlights how our department embodies these features as well as conveys our particular institutional and departmental strengths. Our aspirational future is continued growth, increased stature, and increased satisfaction from all members of our physics community.
1. Executive Summary Prepared by Michael ”Bodhi” Rogers 1.1
The Ithaca College physics department believes strongly that an aspirational vision, a strong mission statement, and clear values help to make us a cohesive and more effective department. Our 2003-2004 assessment and planning established–for the first time in a comprehensive way–our vision, mission, and values. Keeping vision, mission, and values relevant and energized requires periodic review. Six years after establishing our vision, mission, and values in 2003-2004 the time is right to revisit them. We’ve accomplished much of our 20032004 vision and we are primed for a new departmental vision to guide us through the next five years. 1.2
Our Vision, Mission, and Values
Vision: Our vision is that our physics graduates and general education students are successful in a wide range of career paths and have the ability to adapt their skills to jobs that have yet to be created. We also envision that our focus on student centered learning and student-faculty research using a mixture of traditional, current, and multidisciplinary pedagogical techniques informed by on-going education research will create a model for physics and astronomy education that is nationally recognized in both public and professional circles. Mission: The Ithaca College physics department unanimously reaffirmed our mission: We are dedicated to teaching and learning physics in a collaborative, performance-based community. We encourage observation and analysis of the natural world, and we seek to provide the tools and skills for solving problems and advancing our knowledge of the universe.
The Ithaca College physics department also unanimously agreed that, while our mission statement successfully conveys a feeling for what our department does, it would be made more clear to a wide range of readers by including a definition of ’performance-based’:
Performance-based teaching and learning involves students practicing their new skills and knowledge as they learn during every class meeting. This term derives from the history of
Ithaca College as a music conservatory in which musical performance is an integral part of music education at all levels. Active performance of physics enhances the learning process by compelling students to practice their new skills in an environment where they can interact with teachers and classmates. This approach enhances the traditional, lecture-based mode of teaching in which students hear about physics. In a performance-based classroom students learn physics by regularly doing physics. Values: As we serve our community, we strive to hold to the following values:
• • • • •
Fostering a sense of community Striving for excellence in performance-based teaching and research Professionalism, integrity and ethics Creating an environment of active learning and effective communication Striving for the highest quality in all aspects of our work
Through our 2009-2010 assessment and planning process we have identified five strategic initiatives that have significant departmental support. These initiatives are presented in no particular order in that all of them are equally important for the department during the next five years:
• Strategic Initiative 1: Graduate 15 Physics Majors per Year by 2015 • Strategic Initiative 2: Create a First-Rate Laboratory Experience Across the Physics Curriculum • Strategic Initiative 3: Create a Naked-Eye Observatory • Strategic Initiative 4: Establish an Integrated Physics & Astronomy Education Research and Materials Development Program • Strategic Initiative 5: Establish Educational Opportunities focused on Renewable Energy Technologies
1.4 The Action Plan Strategic Initiative 1: Graduate 15 Physics Majors per Year by 2015 High Priority Items (w/ Lead Person) Offer a BA in Astronomy and a BS in Astrophysics [Luke] Expand our collaboration with IC Admissions to ensure that we have access to the best information about prospective students [Matt P.] Explore ways of recruiting and retaining more female students [Beth] Expand our presence on the YouTube IthacaCollegePhysics channel [Matt S.] Identify top internships and summer research opportunities not at Ithaca College and determine how we can make our students competitive for these opportunities [Bruce] Actively establish connections with regional high school physics teachers and guidance counselors [Luke] Actively establish connections with regional community college science teachers and guidance counselors [Luke] Attend workshops and events that extend outreach to local high schools at national physics and astronomy conferences [Bodhi] Secondary Items Work with admissions, marketing, and communications to establish the best ways of representing IC physics to prospective students Establish a physics student CNS tour team Identify opportunities to host outreach events with the Sciencenter and local schools Actively work with the office of international students to recruit promising students Establish more formal procedures for staffing admissions open houses and events and ways we can best recruit during these events Add to the IC physics posters to better highlight the sciences through posters for those prospective students and parents who visit the science building Identify opportunities to publish or contribute to popular media. Assign key faculty members to pursue these opportunities in their specific fields of physics research and areas of service 4
Tertiary Items Identify and actively establish connections with particularly interesting geographic regions where we see opportunities to recruit physics students to Ithaca College Establish criteria for recruitment in our introductory courses that faculty can use to focus their recruitment efforts while teaching these courses. Host public events that can highlight the work being done by the physics department Expand our budget to include recruitment travel money Establish a physics student phone calling team Get current IC physics students more actively involved in IC Peers Identify ways to contribute to IC iTunes U.
Strategic Initiative 2: Create a First-Rate Laboratory Experience Across the Physics Curriculum High Priority Items (w/ Lead Person) Incorporate error analysis, formal laboratory report(s) lab notebooks, and project(s) into PHYS 22500 (DC/AC Circuits) [Dan] Identify experimental skills all physics graduates should have and identify where in our four-course lab sequence (12000, 22500, 36000/32600,45100) students learn, expand upon, and reinforce those skills. Modify our courses as needed to better educate [Bruce] Integrate Context-Rich problems and laboratory activities into the Principles of Physics sequence (PHYS 11700, 11800, 21700, 21800) [Matt S.] Secondary Items Create a capstone experience for all Physics majors. Laboratory Activities Tertiary Items Tutorials Enhance the junior-level laboratory course by creating new experiments Ensure that the senior-level laboratory experience (PHYS 45100) keeps its focus on student-designed, open-ended projects.
Strategic Initiative 3: Create a Naked-Eye Observatory High Priority Items (w/ Lead Person) Coordinate with facilities [Luke] Work on having U-lot turned into a green space [Bruce] Secondary Items Visit the Uranidrome Tertiary Items Develop a full plan Develop a staged plan
Strategic Initiative 4: Establish an Integrated Physics & Astronomy Education Research and Materials Development Program High Priority Items (w/ Lead Person) Human Subjects Review Board (HSRB) [Bodhi] Enhance Educational Opportunities for Students Thinking about Teaching at any level [Andrew] Develop an Instrument to Assess Student Understanding of the Nature of Science [Matt P.] Develop a General Education Scientific Appreciation course [Luke] Longitudinal Study of Student Shift from Novice to Expert Perspectives [Bodhi] Secondary Items Longitudinal Study of Student Development of Laboratory Skills Longitudinal Study of Content Understanding of Physics Majors Increase National Presence at Education Conferences and Committees Tertiary Items Conceptual Development in Introductory Courses International Physics Education Research Increased Collaboration
Strategic Initiative 5: Establish Educational Opportunities focused on Renewable Energy Technologies High Priority Items (w/ Lead Person) Addition of Renewable Energy Experiments in our Intermediate and Advanced Laboratory Courses [Matt S.] New Summer Preparatory Course for Renewable Energy Certification [Beth] Secondary Items BS Thesis topics Tertiary Items PHYS 470 Advanced Topics: Renewable Energy Technologies Development of Laboratory Exercises and Context Rich Problems Development of Laboratory Facilities (such as solar, wind, and thermal energy)
2. Introduction Prepared by Michael ”Bodhi” Rogers Ithaca College currently uses a five year assessment and planning model where departments conduct a comprehensive review and outline major initiatives approximately every five years. Departments prepare reports that are often examined using external evaluators and then submitted to the Dean and subsequently to the Provost for their review and feedback. This report serves as a record of departmental activities and as planning guideline’s for the next five years. The physics department finds this process a powerful way for creating a cohesive department that has clear plans for future improvement. By having a shared vision we combine and focus our efforts to make more efficient use of our time, energy, and resources. 2.1
Review of the 2004-2009 Five-Year Assessment and Planning
During the 2003-2004 academic year the Ithaca College physics department conducted its first comprehensive five year assessment and planning. The 2003-2004 A&P process was organized by physics professor Bruce Thompson. He developed the schedule, organized the sessions, kept the department on track, and oversaw the production of our final report. The 2003-2004 process was kicked off by having Donn Hatcher visit with the department and lead workshops on how to conduct meaningful assessment and planning, hold effective and efficient meetings, how to make decisions involving groups, and creating a vision, mission, and values for the department. The workshop was a great success. It not only produced an intriguing vision and succinct mission, it energized everyone about the future of the department. We also learned valuable tools on how to run meetings and make decisions. We’ve continued to successfully use the meeting and decision making techniques that Donn Hatcher introduced us to. The A&P planning schedule for 2003-3004 was as follows:
November - December 19, 2003 Identify Assessment Tasks and Planning Tasks December 19 Designate lead person on tasks and completion dates March 1 Preliminary reports due. Processing of reports by all. April 1 Compile results from tasks and evaluator April 7 Planning workshop April 14 Write near and far term department goals and action plan April 21 External evaluation by Don Holcomb May 1-31 Write external report, add required sections May 14 Submit report June 1, 2004 until plan revised Speak the vision, live the mission, execute the plan 2.2
Process of the 2009-2010 Five-Year Assessment and Planning
Based on the success of our 2003-2004 A&P process and the success in executing our plan we decided to use a similar model for this assessment and planning cycle. A significant difference between the 2003-2004 process and this one is that in 2003 the department had only one tenured faculty member due to a significant turn over in faculty due to recent retirements. In 2009-2010, five of the six tenure-eligible positions in the department are filled by tenured faculty with the sixth member currently preparing his tenure file for submission. The department is currently running a faculty search for a year-long, full-time sabbatical leave replacement, as well as preparing to run a search for a seventh tenure eligible position Fall 2010. The seventh position is a direct result of our 2003-2004 planning and successes.
August 21-22, 2009 Assessment and Planning Retreat September 8 Identify Assessment Tasks and Planning Tasks September 18 Designate lead person on tasks and completion dates Sept, 2009 - March, 2010 Sub-committee work on report items. March 1 Preliminary reports due. Processing of reports by all. April 1 Final reports due. April 5 Planning workshop to review report April 13 Write near and far term department goals and action plan May 4 External evaluation by Mark Schnieder May 1-31 External evaluator writes report while we complete final edits Aug 1 Submit report to the Dean, who will comment and forward to the Provost. Aug 15, 2010 until plan revised Speak the vision, live the mission, execute the plan 2.3
Evidence for the Distinction of the Ithaca College Physics Department
During the 2003-2004 A&P cycle and our current assessment and planning cycle the department has kept an eye on things that make us distinct with plans to use these features to provide the best experience for our students, recruit students who will thrive in our environment, and keep us connected to our alumni and the ”outside world.” We believe that the following items make us distinct: • We graduate more than ten majors per year on average • We have significant external research funding • We have significant internal funding • Many of our students conduct academic year and summer research • Our students appear as author or co-author on peer-reviewed papers • 85% or more of our graduates are employed or in graduate school within two years of graduating • We have world-class professional schools within our College making for rich collaborative possibilities • We have strong Division III and extramural athletics programs that many of our students find attractive 13
How Our Initiatives Make Us Innovative and How they Compare to Existing Efforts
Our department has found significant success by being Vision, Mission, and Values focused while keeping an eye on how our department mission aligns with the missions of the School of Humanities & Sciences and Ithaca College. Two current college-wide initiatives are the Ithaca College Integrated Curriculum project and the newly formed President’s Advisory Council on Innovation. Both of these efforts are looking to understand what creativity and innovation mean in higher education, as well as how to implement creative endeavors such as multidisciplinary teaching and learning. The Ithaca College physics department recognizes the need to prepare our graduates for a range of jobs; some that currently don’t exist. What we do know is that these jobs will likely involve multidisciplinary and global perspectives. Many of our physics faculty are themselves conducting research in multidisciplinary and global environments. Our 2003-3004 assessment and planning had us look very much inwards and now with an even firmer foundation our 2009-2010 vision has us looking more outward. Enhancing our laboratory curriculum will ensure that all of our students are well versed in problem solving, experimental techniques, and technical writing; all skills that we can’t imagine not being useful to them in their future careers. Establishing an integrated education research and materials development program will better focus our existing efforts and allow us to share our successes with other educators and our future teachers. By enhancing our efforts with renewable energy technologies through our existing courses and innovative certification preparatory short courses we will prepare students for the expanding fields of renewable energy. The Naked-Eye Observatory will be a showcase of a multidisciplinary effort to bring the rich, cross-cultural history and modern practices of astronomy to visitors, campus members, and our courses. With all of our existing efforts (and successes) and our aspirational future we anticipate an increase in prospective students with a thoughtful intent to graduate 15 majors on average. This feels like the right size for our department to continue offering a robust curriculum that allows our students to succeed in their careers. All of our initiatives strongly support the department’s mission while also supporting Ithaca College’s mission. Our initiatives are aspirational, but their alignment with current campus-wide strategic initiatives means that we are putting our efforts into the right areas and that our efforts are more likely to find support.
3. Report from External Reviewer Mark Schneider
4. Strategic Initiative 1: Graduate 15 Physics Majors per Year by 2015 4.1
Introduction and Rationale
Having the right size and mixture of physics students to create a vibrant, active, and engaged physics department that effectively helps students learn is important to us. We are striving to find our right size that is not too big and not too small. Furthermore, in November 2009 President Obama launched the Educate to Innovate campaign that seeks to increase the number of students interested in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. This initiative has much of its focus on K-12 students, but colleges and universities have strong roles to play. We can build outreach programs, we can expand our efforts in training future K-12 teachers, and we can share our knowledge and enthusiasm for science through public media. We feel that Ithaca College has the ability to expand our capacity for educating physics majors. Our growth will be driven by the quality of our program, and our growth can lead to enhanced visibility of our program. The average number of graduating physics majors is 4.7 when comparing the 511 institutions whose highest physics degree is a bachelor’s degree. Only 52 of these institutions graduate more than 10 students on average each year. These institutions are highlighted in the annual Physics Undergraduate Enrollments and Degrees report produced the the American Institute of Physics. Of these 511 institutions only 12 graduate 15 or more students on average each year. Joining the company of these 12 institutions (see figure 4.1) will increase the visibility and highlight the stature of the Ithaca College physics department (figure 4.2). Adding astronomy and astrophysics degrees to our offering are areas for growth that we are well poised for. Of the current seven full-time faculty members two are astronomers, one is a planetary geologist, and three have interests in astronomy and astronomy education research. Only seventy-five departments award astronomy degrees with half of those departments being astronomy only departments. New York State has eight institutions offering astronomy degrees with Barnard College, Colgate University, Union College, and Vassar College being potential competitors for prospective students. Additionally, the number of women graduating with astronomy degrees has increased in the past ten years (figure 4.3), and offering astronomy degrees may provide our department with an opportunity to achieve a better gender balance of our students.
Figure 4.1: Most recent list of physics departments who graduate more than 10 physics majors per year on average.
Cur r entI C Aver age
Figure 4.2: Ithaca College currently graduates 10 physics majors per year on average. Our goal is to move toward graduating 15 majors per year on average; thus placing us in a very small group of departments.
Figure 4.3: The number of female students studying astronomy at the undergraduate level has grown signi cantly.
4.2 Establish a BA in Astronomy and a BS in Astrophysics Prepared by Dan Briotta, Matthew Price, and Michael ”Bodhi” Rogers We propose to establish an astronomy program at Ithaca College. Modeled on our successful two-track BA/BS program in physics, we propose to offer programs leading to a BA in astronomy and a BS in astrophysics. 4.2.1
Faculty Strength and Expertise
Of the current faculty in Physics, six are involved in either astronomy research or research in astronomy education research. Collectively, we have experience at national and international observatories; on the ground, in the air and in space; and at visible, infrared and radio wavelengths. We have research programs in asteroid composition, dust and the formation of planetary systems, contact binary stars, astronomy education, and astronomy education research. Current faculty expertise is more than sufficient to cover the topics needed for an astronomy program. 4.2.2
Student Activity and Demand
Because of the number of faculty involved in astronomical research, many of our students wind up doing astronomy either as part of their research courses, as part of their thesis, or in a summer research project. As a consequence, students have expressed frustration at being able to take only general education astronomy courses here, frequently asking for upper-level astronomy courses to better support their research efforts. One student in our BS program is proposing to construct a radio telescope for his thesis. Other students have gone to other astronomy departments for summer research opportunities (e.g. via REU’s) with equipment not available here. Prospective freshmen ask about our astronomy program. What we don’t know is how many students choose not to apply to or enroll at Ithaca College due to the absence of astronomy degrees. In our experience, students interested in pursuing astronomy as a career self identify as such early in their careers. We also wonder if prospective students, parents, high school teachers, and guidance counselors know the strong connections between astronomy and physics and that a physics undergraduate degree is an acceptable pathway to a career in astronomy. We wonder how many prospective students who are interested in astronomy simply search for schools with astronomy degrees. 4.2.3
Astronomy is very closely related to physics. Many schools, in fact, have a combined “Department of Physics and Astronomy.” Most undergraduate astronomy programs closely track the physics program, with students taking physics and introductory astronomy the first two years, and in the junior and senior years a combination of upper level physics (e.g. Mechanics, Electricity and Magnetism, Thermodynamics, and Quantum Mechanics) and advanced 20
astronomy topics (e.g. Astrophysics, Stellar Structure and Evolution, Galaxies, Cosmology, etc.). 4.2.4
• Year one: Market Analysis, design and implement courses under the IC experimental course names, begin degree approval process, submit funding requests • Year two: Recruitment, begin degrees, design education research component, start degree for current students interested • Year three: First freshman class under new degrees • Future years: Revisit and discuss success of degrees, modify as needed
Because undergraduate training in astronomy and physics have significant overlap, Ithaca College can offer both a BA in astronomy and a BS in astrophysics with only a few additional courses to our offerings. These additional courses will give our students the necessary astronomy and astrophysics required for future careers in these fields. We have the additional benefit of being close to Cornell University and having the Ithaca College-Cornell University Exchange Program. This program allows Ithaca College students to take one course per semester that fits their major and that Ithaca College does not offer. If students meet the guidelines they pay no additional costs for taking a Cornell course, and they can take up to 12 credits through this program. This gives us great flexibility in providing a wider range of course opportunities for our students. Figures 4.4 and 4.5 present proposed catalog copy for the new degrees and figures 4.6 and 4.7 present examples schedules of students in these majors. The concentrations for the BA in astronomy are areas we will develop as students move through the major. We envision concentrations in chemistry, planetary geology, astronomy writing, and archaeo-astronomy.
Requirements for the Major in Astrophysics -- B.S. The B.S. in Astrophysics provides a rigorous course of study in physics, covering all major subfield of physics but with an emphasis on techniques and concepts central to astronomy and astrophysics. The B.S. degree prepares students for graduate study in astronomy and/or astrophysics or highly technical jobs in industry.
Credits in the major PHYS PHYS PHYS PHYS
11700 11800 12000 21700
Principles of Physics I: Mechanics Principles of Physics II: Electricity and Magnetism Introductory Applied Physics Laboratory Principles of Physics III: Waves, Optics and Thermodynamics
4 4 3 4
PHYS 2XX00 PHYS 30100 PHYS 30500
Introductory Astrophysics Mathematical Methods in Physics Electromagnetism
3 3 3
PHYS PHYS PHYS PHYS PHYS PHYS
31100 32000 36000 42100 45200 39800
Analytical Mechanics Thermodynamics Intermediate Physics Laboratory Quantum Mechanics Advanced Astrophysics Laboratory Thesis Proposal
3 3 3 3 3 1
PHYS PHYS PHYS PHYS PHYS PHYS
49700 49800 4XX00 29900 39900 49900
Senior Thesis Senior Thesis Advanced Astrophysics Independent Research: Introductory Independent Research: Intermediate Independent Research: Advanced Total, physics courses
2 1 1 3 1 1 53
Credits outside the major Mathematics and computer science, including MATH 11100, MATH 11200, MATH 21100, 19 MATH 21200, and COMP 19000 Electives
Total, B.S. in astrophysics
Figure 4.4: Example Bachelor of Science in Astrophysics Catalog Copy 22
Requirements for the Major in Astronomy -- B.A. A B.A. major in physics with an astronomy concentration enables students to concentrate on area of physics that will prepare them for graduate work in astronomy or for academic and industry jobs that support astronomical research and research facilities like observatories and planetaria.
Credits in the major Core requirements Physics, including PHYS 11700, PHYS 11800, PHYS 12000, PHYS174, PHYS175, PHYS 21700, PHYS 21800, PHYS 22500, PHYS 30100
Concentration requirements 1. A minimum of 18 additional credits. 2. Nine of the 18 credits must be at level 3 or 4, with at least 6 of the 9 being in physics. 3. Three of the 18 credits must be for a physics laboratory other than PHYS 17600 or PHYS 17700; laboratory credits may be used to satisfy concentration requirement 2. Total, concentration requirements
Total, credits in the major
The concentration must be planned with the adviser and approved by the department before the end of the student's fourth semester.
Credits outside the major Mathematics and computer science, including MATH 11100, MATH 11200, MATH 21100, and COMP 19000; see Math Department Policies on Placement Exams
Total, B.A. in Astronomy
Example concentration Astronomy PHYS 30100, PHYS 31100, PHYS 42100, PHYS 45200, PHYS 47000, PHYS 4XX00
Figure 4.5: Example Bachelor of Arts in Astronomy Catalog Copy
Figure 4.6: Example Bachelor of Science in Astrophysics Schedule
Figure 4.7: Example Bachelor of Arts in Astronomy Schedule
4.3 Retention Prepared by Michael ”Bodhi” Rogers The physics department has a strong retention rate when compared to the approximately 50% of students who switch majors in the School of Humanities and Sciences. We tend to have 2-3 students move into other majors or institutions and 2-10 students enter the major after the first semester (table 4.1). The number entering the major is in part due to Ithaca College’s exploratory program where students opting for this pathway do not have to declare a major for up to four semesters. We credit our strong retention rates to our strong advising program. Those students that do leave often leave for the right reasons and move to a situation more appropriate to their needs. Something we have not done is keep careful track of those entering and leaving, and document why these transitions are happening. In particular, it would be interesting to see if there are any gender differences in students entering versus leaving. This type of tracking will be established and reviewed annually to see if any patterns exist that warrant our attention. Table 4.1: Physics Retention Rates and Attraction Physics Majors Number students in Freshman Class Cohort Percentage leaving the Program Number retained in Program up to Third Semester Number attracted into Program Freshmen/Graduates Ratio Percentage retained in Program
class of 2010 class of 2011 class of 2012 11 7 7 18% 28% 42% 9 5 4 8 2 9 11/17 7/7 7/13 154% 100% 185%
4.4 Recruiting Prepared by Michael ”Bodhi” Rogers During the past several meetings between administrators and the faculty & staff, the Ithaca College administration has kept us updated on the challenges facing Ithaca College in meeting our future enrollment goals. The main challenges are that the number of students who decide to attend Ithaca College is directly proportional to the number of applications we receive, and the number of applications we receive is directly proportional to the number of graduating high school seniors in the Northeastern portion of the United States. Demographic trends show that the number of graduating high school seniors in the Northeast will decline over the next few years. Past trends indicate that the number of students enrolling as freshman at Ithaca College will decline unless the College can break this historic trend. Our physics department recruiting efforts are also historically tied to these enrollment demographics. To support our desire to increase the number of physics students graduating each year we must hope that Ithaca College is successful in breaking the historic trends or we must attempt 26
to break our connection to Ithaca College’s trends. To take an active role in meeting our physics enrollment goals we will: • Expand our collaboration with IC Admissions to ensure that we have access to the best information about prospective students. • Work with admissions, marketing, and communications to establish the best ways of representing IC physics to prospective students • Actively establish connections with regional high school physics teachers and guidance counselors • Actively establish connections with regional community college science teachers and guidance counselors. • Identify and actively establish connections with particularly interesting geographic regions where we see opportunities to recruit physics students to Ithaca College. • Actively work with the office of international students to recruit promising international students. • Explore ways of encouraging more female students • Expand our budget to include recruitment travel money • Establish criteria for recruitment in our introductory courses that faculty can use to focus their recruitment efforts while teaching these courses. • Establish a physics student phone calling team • Establish a physics student CNS tour team • Establish more formal procedures for staffing admissions open houses and events and ways we can best recruit during these events • Get current IC physics students more actively involved in IC Peers • Add to the IC physics posters to better highlight the sciences through posters for those prospective students and parents who visit the science building.
4.5 Marketing Prepared by Luke Keller and Matthew Price The success of all of our programs depends on a high quality, new pool of IC applicants each year that apply to IC because we have an outstanding physics program that is recognized nationally. To raise the profile and visibility of our program to high school and transfer students, we have identified the following activities: 27
• Expand our presence on the YouTube IthacaCollegePhysics channel using the work of Matt Sullivan and his students as a guide. Create templates and procedures to make production and uploading of videos easier. • Identify ways to contribute to IC iTunes U. • Identify opportunities to publish or contribute to popular media. Assign key faculty members to pursue these opportunities in their specific fields of physics research and areas of service. • Identify top internships and summer research opportunities not at Ithaca College and determine how we can make our students competitive for these opportunities. • Identify opportunities to host outreach events with the Sciencenter and local high schools. • Host public events that can highlight the work being done by the physics department. • Attend workshops and events that extend outreach to local high schools at national physics and astronomy conferences.
5. Strategic Initiative 2: Create a First-Rate Laboratory Experience Across the Physics Curriculum Prepared by Matt Sullivan and Bruce Thompson 5.1
The Ithaca College Department of Physics has traditionally had a strong focus on experimental physics, as evidenced by the fact that the department is staffed by seven experimental physicists in a variety of sub-fields of physics. Our strength in experimental physics is reflected in our curriculum and has prepared our students well for jobs in industry and graduate work in physics and engineering. 5.1.1
The physics department currently offers a structured set of five laboratory courses, spread throughout the undergraduate curriculum. These courses build upon one another and are designed to give students the experimental skills they will need in any science or engineering career. • PHYS 12000: Introductory Applied Physics Laboratory. First year. This course provides our students with their first introduction to experimental physics, including such topics and skills as: Notebook keeping, collecting and presenting data, error analysis (measuring and reporting errors), and basic laboratory equipment skills. This is required of all physics majors and minors. • PHYS 22500: DC and AC Circuits. Second year. This course is currently a laboratory course in basic electrical circuits. This course provides our students with basic electronics skills, but does not introduce new experimental topics or skills, nor does it reinforce the skills learned in PHYS 12000. This course is required of all physics majors and minors. • PHYS 32600: Analog Electronics. Third year. An advanced course in analog electrical devices and circuits. This course provides physics students interested in advanced circuits, electrical and computer engineering the opportunity to learn how to make and use more advanced electrical circuits. This course was originally intended as part of a two-course sequence (with PHYS 35100 Digital Electronics) for students interested in computing and electrical engineering. The number of students at Ithaca College
interested in computer and electrical engineering has decreased over the years, and we no longer regularly offer PHYS 35100. Many institutions do not offer a course in advanced circuit design, which makes our course unique and attractive. This course is similar in nature to PHYS 22500, in that it provides an experimental background in circuits but does not require laboratory notebooks or laboratory reports. All B.A. Physics students must take PHYS 32600 or PHYS 36000. • PHYS 36000: Intermediate Physics Laboratory. Third year. This course focuses on six experiments in different subfields of physics. There is a strong emphasis on laboratory notebooks, laboratory reports, sophisticated uncertainty analysis, and literature searches for information about the different experiments. This course is a standard course used in physics departments across the country. This course builds on the foundation of PHYS 12000. All B.A. Physics students must take PHYS 32600 or PHYS 36000. This course is required for B.S. Physics majors. • PHYS 45100: Advanced Physics Laboratory. Fourth year. This course currently consists of two short experiments similar to PHYS 36000 and two long open-ended experiments, and acts as a capstone course for our laboratory sequence. For the long experiments, students must conduct a search through the existing literature, design an experiment, write a proposal, purchase the materials, build the apparatus (if necessary), conduct the experiment, analyze their data, and finally summarize their results in a formal laboratory report, synthesizing the skills and tools they have learned during their time in the physics curriculum. This course also expects students to investigate more sophisticated error analysis if necessary and write their laboratory reports using the scientific typesetting language LATEX. PHYS 36000 is a prerequisite of this course. This course is required for B.S. Physics majors. 5.1.2
The physics department also offers research courses: PHYS 29900, 39900, and 49900 (Introductory, Intermediate, and Advanced Research). Each professor teaches a section of each course every semester for variable student credit, with anywhere from zero to seven or eight students in the research courses each semester. These research courses are complementary to our laboratory courses. The laboratory course sequence is required of all physics majors and emphasizes a variety of experimental skills. The research courses involve students in a faculty member’s research program, and teach experimental skills useful for that particular subfield. Moreover, during a semester-long research course, students often work on only one part of the research endeavor, (e.g. writing a paper, designing an experiment, or taking data) rather than the whole. Finally, a research project will often span several years, with a student beginning in PHYS 29900, continuing in PHYS 39900, and completing the project in PHYS 49900 or PHYS 49800 (Senior Thesis). In essence, our research courses offer students a very in-depth experience in a sub-field of 30
physics and teaches students modern research skills appropriate for that sub-field, whereas our laboratory sequence offers a very broad experience, diverse skills, and multiple opportunities to practice and hone experimental skills (through the different courses). Finally, our research courses are required for B.S. students but not for B.A., B.A. Teaching, MathPhysics, or 3-2 Physics Engineering students. Thus, while we plan to maintain the research courses that complement the laboratory courses, our emphasis in the next five years will be on our laboratory courses, which are required of all majors and provide a wide skill set for our students. 5.1.3
PHYS 12000, PHYS 22500, and PHYS 32600 are currently taught in our electronics laboratory CNS 204. The equipment for these courses is stored in CNS 205, and students are trained to retrieve and return the equipment they need for the course. Currently, our space needs are holding adequate for these courses. The recent addition of PHYS 12000 being required for the Environmental Science major has expanded enrollment in this course. One limit of using CNS 204 for electronics heavy laboratories is the lack of power in the floors. We do have floor outlets, but these outlets are heavily damaged and not accessible for student use. This moves all of our experiments to the perimeter of the room. Another limit to the increased enrollment in PHYS 12000 is available computers in the room. We currently have ten notebook computers, which limits us to 10 teams of two students each (a cap of 20 students per section). PHYS 36000 and PHYS 45100 are jointly taught in CNS 308 and CNS 211, and these spaces are shared with senior thesis projects. A dedicated room for intermediate and advanced laboratory courses is a staple of most physics departments around the country, and was one of the goals of the 2004 Physics Assessment and Planning document. This goal was met in 2006 when CNS 308 was converted to a full-time laboratory classroom where experiments are always set up and prepared for student use. Our advanced experiments could not exist in their present form without this kind of dedicated space and our laboratory courses are a cornerstone of all of the physics degree programs. These rooms currently meet our space needs for these courses. 5.1.4
The department has adequate facilities for the laboratory courses through the junior year. Much of the laboratory equipment is in need of maintenance and upgrades to make the laboratory experiments conducted by students more relevant to later work and less “cookbook.” The department has recently expanded its facilities for senior-level projects, including facilities in the areas of optics, high vacuum techniques, and cryogenic techniques. The advanced laboratory is severely lacking experiments in the areas of renewable energy, solar cells, materials growth and characterization, astrophysics and astronomy, atomic and molecular optics, and physics and astronomy education research. This is mostly due to the lack of equipment in these areas. 31
Our current laboratory course sequence has been successful for many years, and the recent changes in PHYS 45100 have been positively received by attendees of the 2009 Topical Conference on Advanced Laboratories, where Professor Sullivan presented our successes. The Physics Department sees an opportunity to build on our current successes and increase the skills and marketability of our majors. The physics department will determine what laboratory and experimental skills IC Physics graduates should have after successfully completing a degree in our department, and will make changes to reflect those necessary skills. In the course of this assessment process, several changes became obvious: We will make changes at the introductory level courses (the Principles of Physics sequence), at the sophomore level with major changes to PHYS 22500, and at the senior level with changes to the B.S. capstone and the addition of a capstone for B.A. students. 5.3
Identify experimental skills all physics graduates should have and identify where in our four-course laboratory sequence (12000, 22500, 36000/32600, 45100) students learn, expand upon, and reinforce those skills. Modify our courses as needed to better educate our students.
In 2007, the department performed a formal analysis of its laboratory curriculum and produced the “Laboratory and Experimental Skill Development” document (see attached). This document has guided our laboratory courses for the last three years. This document has been useful in identifying what skills our majors learn and in which courses they learn those skills. This self-examination has been particularly useful in the programmatic assessment that the physics department went through in 2008-2009. However, this document is flawed in that it examines our existing courses and determines the skills that our students learn in those courses. In order to better reshape our laboratory sequence, we should first ask the question: “What laboratory and experimental skills should all IC Physics graduates have?” Once we have determined what skills our graduates should have, we can then return to our courses and see where those learning goals fit into our existing course structure. Because physics is a hierarchical discipline, we expect the major topics (e.g. laboratory notebooks and laboratory reports) to be addressed in all of our laboratory courses, though expectations for student work will be greater as the course level increases. Because our laboratory sequence is similar to the sequence taught at institutions across the nation, we do not anticipate radical changes in our course sequence or structure. Moreover, given the success of our graduates, radical change could be a detriment to our students and a risk we are currently not ready to take. Rather, this re-examination of the laboratory skills will clarify our mission and goals and highlight missing elements in our courses, or elements that need strengthening. 32
In the process of creating this assessment and planning document, the department has already started this conversation and identified several ways our courses can be modified to better fit our programmatic goals. These changes are significant changes to the courses, and are presented below. We expect our assessment of experimental skills to lead to more (and smaller) changes. We will use this as a guide in our courses, and ensure that the necessary skills are introduced at appropriate times and reinforced throughout the curriculum. This document will also make laboratory skill assessment easier. 5.4
Integrate Context-Rich problems and laboratory activities into the Principles of Physics sequence (PHYS 11700, 11800, 21700, 21800).
Our physics majors take a traditional introductory sequence of courses the first four semesters. Principles of Physics I (PHYS 11700) covers mechanics, Principles of Physics II (PHYS 11800) covers electricity and magnetism, Principles of Physics III (PHYS 21700) covers waves, optics, and thermodynamics, and Principles of Physics IV (PHYS 21800) covers special relativity and quantum mechanics, so-called “modern” physics. 5.4.1
Context-Rich problems solving–developed by the University of Minnesota Physics Education Research group–are problems that have the following characteristics: • Challenging enough that a single student cannot solve the problem, but a group can. • The path to the solution is not immediately obvious, but the problem is structured enough that the group can determine how they want to proceed to the solution. • There are more than one way to proceed to the solution. • The problems are relevant or have a real-world context. • The solution should not rely on a ”trick” or a mathematically tedious approach. • Students need to make assumptions and estimations to arrive at a numerical solution. Context-rich problems require students to think beyond the end-of-chapter type questions that serve the role of exercises where students practice techniques. This approach to problem solving relies on carefully implemented group problem solving techniques and requires students to provide more detailed and innovative solutions. Professor Rogers learned about this problem solving approach at the New Physics Faculty Workshop in the fall of 2003. He began implementing this approach in PHYS 11700 the following year. After exploring the range of problems available at the University of Minnesota PER groups website, Rogers began modifying these problems and creating his own. In general, he found that the contextrich problems provided by the Minnesota PER group were too easy after approximately half a semester of students learning how to work on these types of problems. 33
An independent and parallel study using the Maryland Physics Expectation Survey (MPEX) as a pre-test and post-test has recorded significant gains in students moving toward the favorable responses. Redish et al. (1998) reports that student responses on MPEX post-test in an introductory mechanics course tend to move away from the favorable responses identified by the expert group. Professors Rogers and Price are currently preparing a manuscript of these results and examining the role that context-rich problems play in helping our students move toward more favorable responses on the MPEX. We have additional feedback that context-rich problems change the way our students think about problem solving in that each year we’ve had about one student who has Advanced Placement credit for PHYS 11700 and PHYS 11800. These students take our sophomore courses PHYS 21700 and 21800 in their first year at Ithaca College. When given context-rich styled problems in PHYS 21700 these students who have skipped our introductory courses find assumption making and estimating challenging and they often see these problems as being under-defined by the instructor. Their response to this challenge is to tell the instructor that the problem fails to contain enough information to solve it. Students who have taken PHYS 11700 are not bothered by the problem being under-defined and freely make assumptions and estimations. Because of the success of context-rich problems in PHYS 11700, faculty members in the physics department have experimented with adding these types of problems in Principles of Physics II and III. PHYS 11800 uses the same course structure as PHYS 11700, but PHYS 21700 is currently structured as a traditional course, with three hours of lecture and a 75 minute recitation, usually used to discuss homework. In the past five years, the department has experimented with the recitation section, using it some weeks for homework, some weeks for problem solving, and some weeks for laboratory activities. This experimentation has occurred due to the interest of the faculty teaching the course and has not been a departmental goal. This experimentation has been successful based on student comments on end-of-course questionnaires. This result coupled with the positive results in PHYS 11700 indicates that context-rich problems are a good learning tool for this course. As a department, we will work to formally to include problem-solving activities in Principles of Physics I-IV. This addition may require us to restructure the in-class time commitments of our courses, perhaps by expanding the former recitation in PHYS III and IV to 120 minutes, or change the nature of the problem solving exercises to be easily completed in 75 or 50 minutes. We will also modify the grading criteria for the problems to be appropriate for the level of the students at each level. In this way, we can build upon the success of Principles of Physics I and continue to build out students’ critical and analytical thinking skills. 5.4.2
Principles of Physics I has successfully incorporated advanced critical and analytical thinking skills into the course via context-rich problems, but has successfully implemented only a few laboratory activities. The department is committed to ensuring that our students become familiar with experimental physics and uncertainty analysis starting from their first course, 34
and so will work to permanently incorporate labs into PHYS 11700. The fact that our Principles of Physics I and II courses have no laboratory component directly attached to them is a product of our history. The courses were restructured in the 1990’s to have no laboratory component, but be connected to our PHYS 12000 course that served that role. We’ve found that our PHYS 12000 course is excellent in developing experimental skills, logical thinking, troubleshooting, team work, and report writing, but is not directly connected to the principles classes in building conceptual understanding of the physics. Our desire is to increase the number of experiments included in PHYS I and II, but we recognize the conflict with wanting to continue our successful use of context-rich problems in PHYS I and our desire to increase their use in PHYS II. We will carefully monitor our balance between context-rich problems and experiments with a desire to make both help students move toward more enhanced critical and analytical problem solving. We have also experimented with laboratory activities in Principles of Physics III. Since 2005, students have conducted five laboratory activities per semester. These labs have been successful, with more than 75% of the students in the course stating that the laboratory activities were good ways to learn the material. Again, these laboratory activities emphasize analytical thinking skills and give students an opportunity to practice experimental techniques they have not seen before and might not see again (e.g., geometrical optics, physical optics, and thermodynamics). Given the success of these laboratory activities, the department will work to permanently add them to our curriculum, and to ensure that the laboratory activities continue the goals of critical and analytical thinking skills in an experimental context. The department will work to determine the best mixture of homework, experiments, and context-rich problem solving activities for the course, and will consider increasing the recitation time to 120 minutes from 75 minutes. In order to facilitate the laboratory activities, the department will consider moving the courses from their current classroom (CNS 204) into the Performance-Based Physics laboratory, where they could take advantage of the equipment available in the room. Principles of Physics IV (PHYS 21800), as discussed earlier, has traditionally been a course with a strong focus on theory. However, there can be a disconnect between what our students learn in the course (special relativity and quantum mechanics) and the “real” world, where it appears that the rules of quantum mechanics in particular do not apply. Given the success of laboratory activities in PHYS 21700, the department is committed to bringing similar activities to the students in PHYS 21800. In particular, as we modify our other laboratory courses, there are certain experiments that would work better in PHYS 21800 than they do in our upper-level laboratory courses. Some examples include: the photoelectric effect, and an examination of the lines in the hydrogen spectrum. Other laboratory activities can be shared, for example, current advances in single photon interferometers, which can be used to show distinguishable/indistinguishable paths (no interference/interference) at the sophomore level and violation of Bell’s inequalities at the upper level. 35
The department will work to determine, as before, the best mix of homework, experiments, and context-rich problem solving activities in this course, and will consider increasing the recitation time to 120 minutes from 75 minutes.
Physics education research has identified many common conceptual difficulties faced by introductory physics students. Much of that research has taken place in calculus-based mechanics, electricity and magnetism, waves and optics, as well as modern physics. These courses at Ithaca College are listed as PHYS 11700, PHYS 11800, PHYS 21700, and PHYS 21800. Research has further shown that these difficulties are persistent. If they are not confronted and addressed, they present an impediment to further study. One efficient and experimentally validated vehicle for doing so is the tutorial system developed at the University of Washington. The tutorials are carefully designed worksheets intended to be used by groups of students. Rather than provide answers, the instructors question students in a semi-Socratic style guiding them to construct their own understanding of the material at hand. At most institutions, tutorials are used during a dedicated one-hour class period each week. At Ithaca College, however, our ”Studio/SCALE-UP” classroom offers more flexibility. In this environment, tutorials can be integrated into the flow of instruction in a seamless manner. In fact, Ithaca College has already integrated tutorials into the PHYS 10100-10200 sequence (our introductory algebra-based physics courses) in just this manner. Tutorials exist that would complement instruction on at least a weekly basis in all of the introductory calculus-based physics courses at Ithaca College (i.e., PHYS 11700, PHYS 11800, PHYS 21700, and PHYS 21800). This, importantly, includes sequences of tutorials in modern physics, relativity and quantum mechanics.
Incorporate error analysis, formal laboratory report(s), laboratory notebooks, and project(s) into PHYS 22500 (DC/AC Circuits).
Prepared by Dan Briotta PHYS-22500, DC/AC Circuits, consists of two 50-minute lectures supporting a 3-hour laboratory each week. In the lecture/theory part of the course, students are taught to calculate mathematical models of various circuits and to predict their behavior in the laboratory. The lecture is also where students are first introduced to using complex numbers for analyzing physical systems - a critical skill for future physics courses. In the laboratory, students measure the actual behavior of real circuits, and compare their measurements to the theoretical predictions. They also gain experience in basic laboratory procedures, including the construction and testing of circuitry and the use of measuring equipment such as voltmeters, signal generators, and oscilloscopes. 36
Although the theoretical and experimental course content are an important part of the physics program, both need revision to serve as a better bridge between the students’ freshman laboratory experience and what will be expected of them in the upper-level laboratory courses. We should also prepare students better to participate in research. Finally, the course should be brought into alignment with the goals of the department’s “Laboratory and Experimental Skill Development” analysis. For example, in the current laboratory exercises students follow detailed procedures specified by the laboratory manual, graph their measurements on the circuit of the week, and draw only trivial conclusions from their results, e.g. does it “agree” with theory, with only minimal error analysis, and essentially no mathematical analysis or verbal discussion of their results. 5.5.2
The laboratory manual will be re-written with new laboratory exercises to more closely model actual physics experiments, to make the students more active in everything from planning the procedures to a final write-up and analysis of results, including error analysis to justify the validity of results. The lecture content will also need to be revised to support this by training students in the proper keeping of a laboratory notebook, in error analysis, and in writing a proper report using expectations and techniques more advanced than those introduced in PHYS 12000. The new laboratory manual and experiments will require significant faculty effort to design, test, and revise. To speed its progress, we will pursue internal funding sources available through our Center for Faculty Research and Development to reduce a faculty member’s teaching load to work on such projects. Many of the goals for the theoretical part of the course, on the other hand, will be addressed immediately by the adoption of a new textbook (Basic Electronics: An Introduction to Electronics for Science Students. Curtis A. Meyer) this fall to replace the current in-house “Theory Manual.” While following the topical sequence of the current course, the new text will provide students with a more thorough theoretical grounding and a wider set of homework problems than are currently offered. The lectures will be revised to fit the new text and to introduce the new laboratory support specified above.
Enhance the junior-level laboratory course by creating new experiments.
The junior-level laboratory course PHYS 36000 is successful in preparing our students for all work in science and engineering by providing a solid background in experimental physics, data analysis and presentation, and error analysis. These topics are delivered via six different laboratory experiments. These experiments give students experience in a variety of topics with different experiments spanning historical (canonical) experiments, “cookbook” experiments, and more modern experiments. 37
The canonical and “cookbook” experiments are mostly made specifically for the undergraduate laboratories by PASCO Scientific, a well-known manufacturer of educational scientific equipment. These experiments usually come with self-contained experimental apparatus and a comprehensive laboratory manual. These experiments provide our students with excellent experimental skills, but often do not require a lot of investigation and analytical thinking from students (hence the term “cookbook”). Moreover, although canonical experiments such as the Millikan Oil Drop are instructive to place important experimental discoveries in context, focusing solely on these types of experiments teaches our students experimental skills, but the content of the experiments are rarely used after graduation. The more modern experiments are experiments modeled after experiments presented in the American Journal of Physics, the premier pedagogical physics journal. These experiments usually have only the published article as a reference and the apparatus has been built by one of the faculty members or a student. These experiments are significantly more difficult for our students. In our junior-level course, we start our students with experiments built by PASCO and allow them to practice their experimental skills before moving on to modern experiments. These modern experiments have an additional benefit in that the content covers material that is more applicable for our students after graduation (e.g., thermal evaporation and cryogenics is directly applicable to materials scientists). In order to enhance our already successful laboratory course, all faculty members will create new experiments in content areas to help prepare our students for industry or graduate work (e.g. renewable energy, materials science, optics, archaeological geophysics, physics education research). These experiments will be added to the modern experiments we already have and will allow us to transition our students away from the PASCO experiments sooner. These experiments will also prepare our students for industry or graduate work by teaching our students necessary experimental skills in the context of topics actively used in industry and graduate work. This will also enhance PHYS 36000 by making full use of the expertise of all the faculty members of the department. Finally, the addition of experiments in these content areas will better prepare our students for the senior-level course PHYS 45100, allowing a smoother transition from experiments where the equipment and procedure is provided and extensively documented (the PASCO labs) to the open-ended experiments in PHYS 45100. 5.7
Ensure that the senior-level laboratory experience (PHYS 45100) keeps its focus on student-designed, open-ended projects.
The prerequisite for Advanced Physics Laboratory was changed in 2008 from Principles of Physics IV (PHYS 21800) to Intermediate laboratory (PHYS 36000). This allowed the course to expand in scope considerably, as now all students in the course had a solid background in experimental physics, error analysis, laboratory notebook skills, and report writing skills. This change allowed PHYS 45100 to act as a capstone for our laboratory sequence. There is no formal instruction in the course, rather students are expected to synthesize much of the material they have learned throughout the Physics curriculum. Students are expected 38
to learn on their own any new material necessary to complete the experiment (e.g. advanced error analysis, and expanded theory necessary to understand the experiment). The instructor of the course guides students through this process and helps students in their individual learning goals.
In creating their laboratory experiments, students are expected to conduct a search through the existing literature, design an experiment, write a proposal, purchase the materials, build the apparatus (if necessary), conduct the experiment, analyze their data, and finally summarize their results in a formal laboratory report using the scientific typesetting language LATEX. This course takes students through the entire process of modern scientific discovery (from proposal to report) in miniature. This course has been well received by the students and the faculty.
Maintaining the open-ended projects of this course requires significant input from the faculty, and input not only from the instructor of the course. Some of this is mitigated by the laboratory capacity of six students, but the course is essentially run as six independent studies. Moreover, because many students wish to do experiments outside of the expertise of the instructor, it is often useful to include faculty members who are not teaching the course (e.g., students interested in optics projects often include Luke Keller, who has an expertise in optics). Moreover, maintaining the course requires significant financial resources. If each student in the course conducts two new laboratory experiments costing on average $150 each, then the total cost per year is nearly $2,000.
The department feels that this model for an advanced laboratory course is pedagogically useful and the department will commit to retaining the open-ended projects. Our current assessment is that the students will learn more by focusing on two to three in-depth experiments instead of a large mixture of shorter experiments. To address this student learning need we will reduce the number of experiments in the course from four to two in order to give the students a much deeper experience in the course.
There are several staffing and budgetary issues that occur due to the changes in this course. If the enrollment in this course increases, we will have to request an augmentation to our budget to cover the costs of the student projects. When possible, we will also guide students to projects related to a faculty member’s research specialty in order to reduce the cost of the projects to the department, where the faculty members individual research funding will pay for the project costs. In order to maintain the quality and variety of the projects, the physics faculty will commit to being involved in this course when appropriate, even if they are not the instructor of record, but we will also work to ensure that faculty who are not the instructor of record are asked to participate in no more than one project each semester. 39
Create a capstone experience for all Physics majors.
The B.S. in Physics requires all students to complete a senior thesis. The senior thesis builds on the research conducted with one of the professors in the department, usually over the course of 2+ semesters and at least one summer. Through the process of completing their thesis, students gain experience in the design of experiments, proposing scientific research, and conducting extended experiments. Senior thesis also give students experience in oral presentations, as they are expected to present their research at the Whalen Symposium and also defend their thesis orally. Students have an opportunity to practice modern scientific research by following a project from proposal to the thesis. Since the first students graduated with a B.S. in Physics in 2008, the senior thesis has served as an excellent capstone for the B.S. degree. The Senior Thesis is particularly useful for programmatic assessment, as many of the learning goals of the B.S. degree are explicitly and intentionally required by students in their senior projects and when they write their senior thesis. Moreover, in terms of student placement after graduation, in graduate school and in employment, the senior thesis is an excellent showcase of the talents and abilities of our students. The mentor can discuss the project concretely in recommendation letters, the student can discuss it in job interviews, and the thesis itself acts as a powerful portfolio of student abilities. Because of the success of the senior thesis, the department is committed to creating a similar opportunity for all physics students to synthesize and share the material they have learned in their time at Ithaca College. This opportunity clearly takes the form of a capstone course, and thus the department is committed to creating a capstone course for all physics majors. Senior thesis, as discussed, serves as the capstone course for B.S. students, but is not a required course for all degree options in the department. Moreover, the learning goals for senior thesis and Advanced Physics Laboratory (PHYS 45100) are very similar, and the open-ended projects can serve as capstones for students in the B.A. degree program, and if properly structured, can even reflect each B.A. student’s individual concentration. Thus, the open-ended projects in Advanced laboratory can achieve the same goals as senior thesis currently does for B.S. students. The reverse of that argument is, of course, that Advanced laboratory can also serve as a capstone for the B.S. students; although in a less comprehensive way. In light of this, the department will create an explicit capstone for all physics majors. For B.S. students, this can be PHYS 49800 (Senior Thesis) or PHYS 45100 (Advanced Laboratory). For B.A. students, the capstone will be PHYS 49800 or PHYS 45100. Because scheduling is often more complicated for B.A. students, an equivalent experience in individual research (PHYS 49900) will also be available as an option for B.A. students. Math-Physics majors will have a fourth option for a capstone: the mathematics department’s capstone course. For Physics Teaching majors, the capstone will be student teaching (i.e., using their physics 40
knowledge in practice). For Physics 3-2 Engineering majors, the capstone will be successful completion of an Engineering degree. Currently, both PHYS 45100 and PHYS 49800 are required for B.S. students. We will change the major to make one or the other required, thus the explicit capstone will reduce the requirements of the B.S. degree without changing its learning goals. The addition of a capstone to the B.A. degree will increase the requirements of the degree from 40 credits to 43 credits. We see these changes as positive steps toward increasing flexibility of our degrees and allowing advisors to help student’s select the proper educational path to enhance their career goals. We anticipate that the majority of the B.S. students will still opt to write a thesis, and we are curious to see what pathways our B.A. students find attractive to enhancing their career goals.
6. Strategic Initiative 3: Create a Naked-Eye Observatory Prepared by Luke Keller, Matthew Price, and Michael ”Bodhi” Rogers 6.1
Introduction and Rationale
The Ithaca College physics department has a record of being interested in multi-disciplinary endeavors, outreach, and finding innovative ways of bringing the appreciation of science to a wide range of people. Learning about Middle Tennessee State University’s Uranidrome–a naked-eye observatory–inspired us to embark on our own implementation of such a facility. The core-design of a naked-eye observatory welcomes people to view the sky without the aid of modern technology, and to behold the wonders of the sky. The Ithaca College Naked-Eye Observatory (figure 6.1) project is an opportunity to create a facility that will attract the general public to campus specifically to use the facility, to have campus members use the facility for astronomical observations, as a green space on campus, as a marketing element to prospective students, as a talking point with potential donors, and as a formal education tool in our curriculum. This project is also well aligned with the current campus-wide strategic initiative examining integrative curriculum.
Figure 6.1: Artist rendition of the U-Lot converted to a green space with an example NEO.
The Ithaca College Naked-Eye Observatory Project (IC NEO) was submitted as one of the Ithaca College Integrated Curriculum, (IC)2 , development projects. The proposal advanced to the final ten and was not chosen as one of the final projects. During the proposal phase of (IC)2 the dean of the School of Humanities and Sciences expressed a desire to support this project even though it was not selected as one of the (IC)2 demonstration projects. The Ithaca College physics department will organize and lead a multidisciplinary group to design an outdoor teaching and learning environment that is focused on the construction of the first naked-eye observatory and outdoor learning environment in the northeast. The observatory structure and design will involve substantial multidisciplinary and collaborative work of students, faculty, and staff in physics, astronomy, science education, mathematics, art & architecture, history, anthropology, and science education. IC Department of Facilities , grounds personnel, and administration will also play central roles in the planning and design process. The design phase, construction phase, and on-going use all have potential to serve many students from across campus as well as K-12 students and teachers from Ithaca and surrounding communities. The IC NEO also has the potential for educational synergy with the highly popular and successful Sciencenter of Ithaca. Our observatory will: • provide a facility for formal and informal investigation of culture, history, and science; • be an educational destination for local and regional K-12 students and teachers; • be aesthetically interesting and provocative in and of itself; • preserve green space and walkways; • facilitate frequent public events in concert with our existing modern observatory; • be used for performance-based learning in formal courses across campus; • be accessible to anyone at any time without supervision or special equipment; A unique aspect of the IC NEO is its versatility as a facility for both formal and informal education. Along with its educational value and utility, the IC NEO will also • be a beautiful and compelling piece of interactive art on campus; • be an inviting place to meet, study, visit, or just pass through; • be a compelling combination of ancient and contemporary architecture; • be a focal point to encourage/acknowledge financial contributions to this and other projects; • capture the imagination of the campus community and our visitors; and • be useful in both marketing and admissions recruiting efforts. 45
Figure 6.2: A. Monoliths guide visitors to observe the sky using only their eyes. B. During scheduled open house nights smaller diameter telescopes let visitors see astronomical objects up close. C. The amphitheater allows visitors to see live images from the Clinton B. Ford 24 Telescopic Observatory during special open houses. D. Benches allow visitors to use the space for non astronomical reasons. E. A former parking lot is now green space in the center of campus. F. We hope that the IC Naked-Eye Observatory will be connected to the Sagen Planet walk. G. Access to loading docks and emergency vehicles is preserved. H. Emerson Suites has a prime view of the facility. I. Campus tours will pass through the facility.
Following is a timeline based on construction of the full project from conception to completion. We have assumed that full funding will be given initially. The IC NEO has the option of being built modularly. Modular building means that certain curricular instruction will not be possible until all of the monoliths are built. For example: following the path of the Sun across the sky cannot be done without at least one monolith directly south of the central viewing region. If we can only buy one monolith, it would be better to put the southern one in, but then we would not be able to teach about the northern sky.
Year 1: Site Selection and Cost Determination
During the first year we will schedule a meeting between the core project staff, the dean, the vice-president of finance and administration, and facilities staff to discuss the project, its priority to the School of Humanities & Sciences, and our desire to place it in the U-Lot. The current U-Lot parking lot is on the master plan as a place slated to be converted from a parking lot to a green space and this place fits many of the criteria for the IC NEO to be successful. Site selection and understanding the cost of the infrastructure needs to be a first step. Regardless of whether the IC NEO is built modularly–with one or two monoliths at a time–or if it is built as one project, the basic infrastructure will need to be in place from the beginning. By the end of our first year we should have a plan for site layout, subsurface electrical and data needs, cost for essential infrastructure, and a physical model of the facility. 6.2.2
Year 2: Design And Development
During the second year of the project we will form four working groups that will consist of Ithaca College faculty and staff interested in the design and construction of the IC NEO. These groups will be: • artistic and architectural design working group: This group will be responsible for the layout and structure of the monoliths, telescope piers, and amphitheater. This group will be the lead in discussions with possible architects and design groups used in the process of design. This will be the first group formed. • technical design working group: This group will be in charge of the technical aspects of the construction. This would include material choices for the monoliths, designing the power infrastructure to use solar or some other renewable energy alternative to charge the batteries needed to power telescopes, the amphitheater, and the lights. We would like to make this space as green as possible and it will fall on this group to determine the best way to do that. 47
• cultural and historical working group: This group will help lead the discussion of how we incorporate the IC NEO into the cultural and historical discussions. The IC NEO site is visioned as being a site that more than just astronomy students will use. This is thought of as a site where all faculty interested in a discussion over the historical, cultural, archaeological, or some other aspect of a place where people gather for special events can go. This is also seen a destination site for outreach or the interested visitor. The cultural group will work with the Sciencenter and other interested parties to develop a plan on how to present the IC NEO in the cultural aspect.
• education and public outreach working group: This group will work on the design of instruction for the public education material for the IC NEO. Individual faculty will have guidance on how to use the IC NEO, but there will also be materials for visiting schools and visiting public. There will be an interest in the how people understand science and observation after they have visited the IC NEO. Tools to measure how people use the IC NEO and how they learn by using it will be designed by this group.
Year 3: Construction and Initial Instruction
The construction of the infrastructure will take place during year two. The time needed to build the infrastructure is dependent on how much construction is necessary to take existing structures and convert them to green spaces. While the conversion to green spaces is taking place our infrastructure can be included.
Once the infrastructure is in place, we can construct one or two temporary structures (e.g. flag poles) to begin the initial instruction for the astronomy courses. This instruction will be studied by a professor that has a background in pedagogy. The initial instruction will also help define the needed details for the materials that would be used for public visits and outreach.
Other instructional material will be based around the multidiscipline nature of the IC NEO. Our goal is for the IC NEO to be used by any faculty that can see a way to use the experience in their class. There is also the ability for a many faculty to work together on a single course that could use the IC NEO in multiple ways to show the scientific, cultural, and historical uses of a large public meeting space like this. Some of this instruction will be done during the first year to demonstrate to other faculty.
Year 4: Construction Completion
By the end of year four there should be a complete construction. This structure will be a destination for some visitors, will be used by faculty regularly, will be used for outreach, and will be a demonstration for those that would like to build a learning environment similar to ours.
Continued measurement and improvement of instructional materials will be taking place. Modifying instructional materials will be a part of the project that will continue into the future of the project.
In year three we plan on having some instructional material that can be disseminated to to the public that can take advantage of existing structures or that can show how such a place can be an effective teaching tool for many disciplines.
Year 5 and Beyond:
If the IC NEO is a modular construction, year five and beyond will be a completion of the structure. If the construction is complete, then education and outreach research will be continuing. The IC NEO will become part of the public observing nights at Ithaca College. The IC NEO can also become a place to show prospective students, faculty, and donors.
Education research will involve free-choice learning research, astronomy education research, and other education research for other disciplines that would like to be involved.
The IC NEO will be used by visitors without a personal guide, guided tours, and by students enrolled in Ithaca College courses. The curricular needs of each of these users differ due to the varying role of an instructor. We will develop materials to support the use of the IC NEO as a learning tool for each type of learner. On their website, Middle Tennessee State University identifies the following items one can do with a naked-eye observatory: • Identify the North Star • Determine the latitude and longitude of Ithaca • Learn basic principles of celestial navigation 49
• Identify the circumpolar constellations • Use these constellations as a way to tell time • Examine sunrise and sunset points to explain the Earth’s tilt and the seasons • Identify the first days of Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter • Examine the moonrise and moonset points to explain lunar phases • Identify the apparent path of the planets through the night sky • Identify where and when to look in the night sky to observe meteor showers • Calculate angular size of the Sun and Moon and relative distances to Sun and Moon • Measure Earth’s rotation rate • Measure Earth’s rate of revolution around the Sun Developing learning materials for guided and unguided visitors will be a new experience for us as educators. We are skilled at course-based instruction, but less so with informal science education to the general public. We will reach out to the Sciencenter and other public science educators to have them assist us in developing the most useful facility for these types of visitors. We foresee the creation of many activities that are linked to particular courses, such as general education astronomy or world history. Having a physical structure can help students learn about things such as seasonal changes with respect to the background constellations that are challenging to learn in a lecture hall. Much of what we propose to do with the IC NEO can be lectured on the the classroom, but in a less effective way. For example, there has been some success with students being able to communicate understanding of the seasons after using the lecture tutorials developed by Prather et al., but deeper probing shows that students are not able to translate the conceptual understanding to a picture or description of what we might see. As an example of how we intend to enhance student learning using the IC NEO we propose to take students through a learning cycle where they watch the Sun using the IC NEO. The daily motions of the Sun could be seen using just three monoliths; East, South, and West. Students could go out for a day or two and describe how the Sun looks as it rises, where it is when it is at local noon, and how it looks as it sets. All of these are described with respect to the monoliths. Since both semesters cross equinoxes, we could have them looking at the Sun with respect to the western monolith once a week until the equinox. This would give them an understanding how the Sun changes through the season. This instructional technique uses observations to gain an understanding of the motion of the sun in the sky relative to the ground. We would introduce the concept early in the semester, have the students take 50
data on a predetermined schedule, and then analyze their data later in the term. This type of project can be done in parallel with the rest of the course while we can still introduce and discuss other topics. Other projects that could be used in this format are: • Phases of the Moon • Motion of the planets • Motions of the constellations and the celestial sphere model • Any project that would use observations of the night sky to create a model
Learning Outcomes and Project Assessment
By implementing the IC NEO project, the Ithaca College community will learn how every constituency of the campus community can contribute significantly to a multidisciplinary design project. We will also learn how to incorporate educational goals of many academic disciplines into the development of a single instructional facility for use by the entire campus community. Four outcome areas for the IC NEO will be assessed. Each assessment will be defined by the working group(s) primarily responsible for that area. The four outcome areas are; • Design project assessment Design and demonstration of the IC NEO will incorporate collaborative undergraduate projects in astronomy/physics, history, anthropology, science education, art/architecture, and mathematics. During the design study that we propose here, assessment will take the form of: (1) regular meetings of the steering committee to assess progress towards a specific set of goals for the working groups; (2) regular meetings of the working groups and the steering committee to assess our methods and their efficacy; (3) regular reports to the provost summarizing our progress and the results of our assessment activities; and (4) formal course assessment if student contributions take the form of independent study or independent research courses for credit. • Informal science education learning outcomes Once the observatory is open to the public, both at IC and beyond, we will work with the Ithaca Sciencenter to tap into their vast experience connecting with the Ithaca area public and local schools. We will also seek their input on assessment of the informal science education uses of the Uranidrome. IC physics professor Bruce Thompson has been involved with the Sciencenter for over 20 years and will serve as our contact. 51
• Formal science education learning outcomes Once the observatory is finished it will continue to serve as a focus for formal teaching and learning in many IC disciplines with clear and measurable student learning goals. The learning goals and assessment methods of those goals will be determined as learning materials are created and implemented. • Multidisciplinary usage of the space One goal of the IC NEO is to create a multidisciplinary learning environment. We will periodically survey the IC campus community to identify if and how others are using the IC NEO.
7. Strategic Initiative 4: Establish an Integrated Physics and Astronomy Education Research and Materials Development Program Prepared by Andrew Crouse and Michael ”Bodhi” Rogers Physics Education Research is a relatively young sub-field of physics to which Ithaca College is poised to make significant contributions. This potential can only be actualized if deliberate steps are taken to leverage our unique situation.
Physics Education Research as a scholarly pursuit of physicists in physics departments is not yet 40 years old. Its development was seeded by a widespread recognition that students were often leaving physics courses with very little understanding of the conceptual foundations of the subject. Most shocking was that this was true even of students who demonstrated a technical mastery of typical problem solving algorithms. In response, physicists applied the methodologies and standards of evidence accepted in the physics community to this problem in physics education. This work was distinct from that pursued in schools of education in that it focused on the content of physics and its pedagogy as inseparably linked entities. Pragmatically, the work was situated within physics departments as the location of both the content expertise and the classes where the content was taught. Soon graduate degrees in physics were being earned based on research in physics education. The field is still growing rapidly, and has influenced the emergence of discipline-based education programs in other sciences including Astronomy.
Ithaca College’s Unique Position
Today the Physics Department at Ithaca College finds itself in a unique position with regard to Physics Education Research. Currently, the physics department has two faculty members (Andrew Crouse and Matthew Price) whose entire research program is devoted to Physics or Astronomy education research. In addition, two other faculty members (Luke Keller and Michael Rogers) devote a significant portion of their research time to Physics or Astronomy Education Research. Currently, this institutional commitment of faculty resources puts us among the larger Physics/Astronomy Education groups in the nation. In addition the Physics Department has been recognized as producing large numbers of majors for an
undergraduate institution. Furthermore, the faculty as a whole has taken an intense interest in pedagogy as evidenced by publications in the journals of the American Association of Physics Teachers and the American Astronomical Society. In the past seven years, the department has published seven articles in the American Journal of Physics, three in The Physics Teacher, and one in Astronomy Education Review. There are two additional publications currently under review and several more being prepared for submission summer and fall 2010. Finally, the Physics department functions as a cohesive unit which is very supportive of projects in Physics and Astronomy Education. This advantage should not be underestimated as it is a relatively rare situation and opens up the possibility of doing longitudinal and programmatic studies that would not be possible elsewhere. The Physics/Astronomy Education Research Group should leverage its strengths to focus on projects for which we are uniquely positioned to make progress. Possibilities include the following: 7.3
Develop a General Education Scientific Appreciation course
We will demonstrate a literacy-centered approach to natural science general education by developing a course that focuses on our general education learning goals by concentrating on student literacy in and appreciation of the academic disciplines involved. The course will be a literacy or appreciation survey, designed by faculty with specific learning goals that map directly to our Gen. Ed. goals and guidelines. We will demonstrate this approach by offering a new multi-disciplinary introductory natural science course in the physics department. We are calling it Science Appreciation, but promise to devise a more creative and descriptive name. The course will cover the fundamentals of current human understanding of nature based on scientific work, the nature of science as a human endeavor, and the interface of science and society. This will be a multi-disciplinary course with the specific purpose of meeting our Gen. Ed. requirements. These requirements must be clear and measurable goals for student learning (see below for specific student learning goals in our proposed demonstration). Furthermore, the survey course can include sales pitches for other introductory courses in physics or other natural sciences (If you find this interesting, we offer a whole course on the subject!). In addition to a solid, stand-alone foundation in science, students will be better prepared for subsequent discipline-specific science Gen. Ed. courses. Science Appreciation will be organized around specific fundamental principles for natural science literacy and their applications in daily life (Adapted from James Trefil, 2008, Why Science?, Teachers College Press): • The universe is regular and predictable. • The energy of a closed system is conserved. • Thermal energy will not flow spontaneously from a cold body to a hot body. 54
• Electricity and magnetism are linked and are fundamental to understanding light, atomic and molecular structure, and the basic properties of all materials. • Matter is made from atoms. • Material properties are determined by the identity & arrangement of atoms. • The laws of nature are the same everywhere in the universe. • There is a great deal of energy in the atomic nucleus. • The atomic nucleus is made of particles. • The universe began in a manner roughly consistent with the ”Big Bang” theory. • Stars live, evolve, and die and during their lives they produce all of the stable chemical elements in the universe, except hydrogen, helium, and lithium, which were produced in the Big Bang. • The surface of the Earth is constantly changing. • The Earth is a system that works in cycles. • The Earth’s climate is complex and depends on the chemical composition of the atmosphere. • Life is based on chemistry. • The behavior of molecules in living systems depends on their shape. • Life’s chemistry is encoded in DNA. • All living things on Earth share the same genetic code. • Life evolved through the process of natural selection. • All measurements involve uncertainly. • There are very specific definitions of and distinctions between a scientific hypothesis, a scientific theory, and a law of nature.
Science is fundamentally based on observations of nature and natural processes. The process of science involves interpretation of observations, which may result in disagreement among scientists especially in the beginning of an investigation. The validity of scientific work is assessed through a peer review process. Science and technology are not the same thing. We will compile the final list in collaboration with faculty from across the natural sciences. The demonstration course will be structured around in-class discussions, in-class activities 55
that exercise critical and analytical thinking skills, reading and short writing about science and scientific work. The course is designed to build students appreciation of science in the same way that a music appreciation course exposes students to the many aspects of music, its performance, and its composition. One does not need to know how to create music to appreciate it and be enriched and empowered by that appreciation. Similarly, this is specifically not a course designed to train future scientists. This course is designed to train citizens by developing a confident, informed, critical, and analytical approach to science and the reported results of scientific studies. Assessment of student learning will include pre- and post-tests that measure student learning of the nature of science and scientific work, e.g. the Views of the Nature of Science Questionnaire (Lederman et al. 2002, Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 39(6), 497-521) or a new instrument that Professors Matthew Price and Michael ”Bodhi” Rogers are developing at Ithaca College. 7.4
Develop an Instrument to Assess Student Understanding of the Nature of Science
The physics department is committed to providing meaningful general education courses which provide both scientific appreciation and scientific literacy. Doing so effectively, in part, requires the development and validation of an instrument to assess student understanding of the nature of science. Professors Matthew Price and Michael ”Bodhi” Rogers are currently pursuing this project. Such a project will require collaboration with other institutions to test the reliability and validity of the instrument. They have submitted an NSF CCLI grant proposal to fund their efforts and involve paid undergraduate summer researchers. Their grant proposal has received favorable reviews and is awaiting final funding decisions. 7.5
Longitudinal Study of Student Development of Experimental Skills
A priority of the physics department at Ithaca College is the re-structuring and re-conception of the laboratory sequence. Numerous faculty members whose research interests lie in traditional physics are deeply committed to this project. Very little physics education research has been conducted in upper division laboratory courses. In addition, there is almost no longitudinal data on how physics majors develop skills and ideas in the laboratory over the course of their undergraduate career. The physics department at Ithaca College is uniquely poised to contribute our understanding of these issues. 7.6
Longitudinal Study of Student Shift from Novice to Expert Perspectives
Due to the collegial nature of the physics department, Ithaca College has been able to administer the Maryland Physics Expectations Survey (MPEX) to physics majors at numerous 56
times during their studies. This data gives a picture of how the thinking of physics majors evolves during their undergraduate career. The MPEX instrument was developed by the University of Maryland Physics Education Research group as a way to measure students perceptions of how to successfully learn physics. Physics faculty committed to reforming their teaching show a strong consistency (> 90%) in their responses, and this group defines the expert response. Student responses are marked favorable (if they agree with the expert response), neutral, or unfavorable. It is reasonable to hypothesize that student perceptions before taking a first semester course on Newtonian mechanics would be less favorable, but have more favorable responses after taking the course. Redish et al. (1998) report that the opposite occurs in that our first semester physics courses can lead to less favorable attitudes, beliefs, and expectations about learning physics. A manuscript currently under preparation for submission to Physics Review Special Topics - Physics Education Research will report a move toward more favorable (alternatively one can think of moving away from unfavorable) responses in our PHYS 11700 course. We are now curious as to how and when this shift from novice to expert occurs. 7.7
Longitudinal Study of Content Understanding of Physics Majors
The cohesiveness of the department also affords the opportunity to longitudinally study the conceptual development of physics majors. Our programmatic assessment process has already begun this process, but a more formal study involving interviews on specific topics could contribute significantly. 7.8
Conceptual Development in Introductory Courses
The physics department is concluding a multi-year, NSF funded study on the implementation of North Carolina State University’s “SCALE-UP” model in our introductory physics and astronomy courses. The study of student conceptual development in these courses should continue. Not only are there interesting questions left to answer in these courses, but the courses provide the ideal environment to engage undergraduate physics majors interested in physics education research. Additionally the department is in a position to tailor and validate curriculum, proven in other environments to the “SCALE-UP” environment. 7.9
International Physics Education Research
Exciting data is becoming available that will allow the comparison of student understanding across cultures and around the world. This data stream will open up the possibility of answering certain research questions such as how much of student difficulties with particular physics topics are based in the semantics of a particular language. In addition, adaptation of education innovations to situations with limited resources is important for physics teaching in many places around the world. The Physics Department could leverage Ithaca College’s international focus in helping to meet these needs. 57
K-12 Teacher Training and Educational Opportunities for Students Thinking about Teaching at any Level
At Ithaca College, the Physics Department has offered a BA in Physics Teaching for some time. Recently, however, we have begun offering an MA in Physics Teaching. In addition to students in these formal programs, we often find that students in our other degree programs pursue a teaching career after they graduate. With this in mind, we are seeking ways of giving more of our students an early teaching or tutoring opportunity coupled with training to increase their pedagogical content knowledge. We propose to develop a course that will help potential teachers make connections between the content of their undergraduate courses and the K-12 curriculum. Courses such as these have been shown to be effective at helping make upper-level content relevant for students (Norton et al., 2008). In the physics department, the one-credit course will review current innovations in physics education such as Peer Instruction (Crouch and Mazur, 2001), Just in Time Teaching (Novak et al., 1999), Workshop Physics (Laws, 1991), Tutorials in Physics (McDermott and Shaffer, 2002), and Studio Physics (Cummings et al., 1999) and will discuss how these techniques can be successfully implemented in K-12 classrooms. The linking courses will also serve as a recruitment tool for hidden teachers who emerge during the junior year when students who are not declared teaching majors begin discussing their interest in teaching. Many of these students discover their interest in teaching through tutoring and serving as teaching assistants. Working as a TA or tutor could be a requirement of this course. In addition, the course could be made a requirement for later paid work as a TA or tutor for the department. The department has also proposed a post-doctoral fellowship intended to prepare future faculty to teach. Active faculty mentoring will be an integral part of the fellowship and will require appropriate release time for the faculty members involved. 7.11
The two faculty members whose research is entirely within Physics or Astronomy Education Research are not permanent faculty members. In support of the above projects, future faculty searches should value highly: broad PER experience, PER experience with upper level courses, and/or PER experience with upper level laboratories. 7.12 7.12.1
Needs Human Subjects Review Board (HSRB)
The department will initiate conversation with our HSRB to implement a comprehensive research plan in a manner that does not require us to submit annual applications for HSRB approval or submit for every sub-component of our research. As a department committed to involving undergraduates in all aspects of research, it is important to develop HSRB protocols 58
that will allow undergraduate researchers to participate in all aspects of physics education research to including interviews. We will also develop these protocols in coordination with our HSRB. 7.12.2
To mitigate the small sample sizes inherent in Ithaca College classes, it is important for us to increase collaboration with other institutions. In addition to mitigating small sample sizes these collaborations will provide opportunities to understand the transportability of our efforts. The recently revamped NSF CCLI program–now called Transforming Undergraduate Education in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (TUES)–also places an increased emphasis on moving educational innovations beyond a single classroom, department, and institution. 7.12.3
Physics education research is still a small sub-field of physics. This community of researchers is primarily connected to the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT). This being the case, the direction of the community is often decided by face-to-face meetings at AAPT conferences. To increase the national stature of Ithaca College’s Physics/Astronomy Education Research program, we recognize that it is important to have a strong presence at AAPT conferences and to take on leadership roles in its governing bodies. In addition to AAPT’s standing committee on Research in Physics Education, there exists a Physics Eduction Research Topical Group (PERTG) and the Physics Eduction Research Leadership Organizing Council. The physics education community also presents its work at a conference on the foundations and frontiers of physics education research (FFPER) which takes place every other year often alternating with a Gordon conference on similar themes. Other organizations have also begun actively supporting Physics and Astronomy education research. The American Physical Society has a forum on education. The American Astronomical Society also extensively supports Astronomy Education Research. Additionally, a new organization, “The Advanced Laboratory Physics Association”, was founded in 2007 to support efforts to improve experimental physics instruction. To gain national recognition, the Ithaca College Physics and Astronomy Education Research Group will showcase its work at as many of these venues as possible, and become engaged in service on their various governing bodies.
8. Strategic Initiative 5: Establish Educational Opportunities focused on Renewable Energy Technologies. Prepared by Beth Ellen Clark Joseph 8.1
Introduction and Rationale
We propose to establish educational opportunities for students to learn about renewable energy technologies that maximize relevance to current department, school, campus, city, state, national, and international energy policy trends. As concern over long-term supplies of fossil fuels and the environmental impacts of their procurement and use continue to grow, energy issues will occupy an increasingly important place in economic, political, and environmental debates. Educational institutions offering programs that prepare student’s to address and solve these complex problems will be much more effective if they include technical preparation. This curriculum initiative will introduce students to renewable energy technologies and the opportunities created by sustainable energy systems. Courses, laboratory facilities, and a certification preparatory program will provide students with a rigorous grounding in the technical principles necessary to design and implement renewable energy projects and to evaluate their costs and benefits. Ithaca College has a commitment to sustainability, has signed the President’s Climate Commitment, and our Board of Trustees recently passed a Climate Action Plan. We have two LEED Platinum certified buildings on campus and we are working towards a utility-grade wind turbine installation. Our commitment to sustainability gives us a firm foundation for building our capacity of delivering renewable energy curricular materials. 8.2
Our renewable energy education initiative will require us to add renewable energy topics to our already existing courses. We additionally propose to develop a summer program of preparatory courses for individuals taking the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners certification exams. 8.2.1
PHYS 470 Advanced Topics: Renewable Energy Technologies
Primarily intended for Physics and other Science majors interested in exploring developments in renewable energy technologies, with an emphasis on system engineering, design, and performance monitoring. This course will include the physics of renewable resource
development and the analysis of resource data (see gures 8.1 and 8.2) for a syllabus and schedule). Sample Catalog Description: There are two important energy challenges facing society: changes in the resource base and changes in climate due to increased concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere. This course will prepare students to be at the forefront of meeting these challenges. This course provides students interested in energy systems with essential knowledge of major energy technologies. Topics include energy resources (fossil, nuclear, solar, wind and geothermal), carbon emissions impacts, carbon storage and sequestration, life cycle analysis, energy return on investment, transportation, and national energy policy and use trends. Our study of energy technologies will include how they work, how they are quantitatively evaluated, what they cost, and what is their bene t or impact on the natural environment. This course will use the textbook by Vanek and Albright: Energy Systems Engineering, McGraw Hill 2008. The course assumes that students have had a basic introduction to mechanics, electricity, and thermodynamics.
Figure 8.1: Example Syllabus for a PHYS 47000 Special Topics on Renewable Energy.
Figure 8.2: Example Schedule for a PHYS 47000 Special Topics on Renewable Energy.
Laboratory exercises and context rich problems
Laboratory exercises and context rich problems that utilize the proposed renewable energy laboratory facilities will be developed for inclusion in existing Physics courses, such as PHYS 360 Intermediate Lab, PHYS 14300 Power, and PHYS 17100 Earth Science. 8.2.3
BS Thesis Topics
This initiative will benefit from the early exploration of several new lines of investigation that will involve students seeking BS degree thesis topics. Students will be engaged in the first such investigations, and their results will inform further investigation. We envision several example topics: Conduct an independent analysis of the Ithaca College Wind Speed data. The wind power feasibility study conducted by Ithaca College resulted in six months worth of wind speed data obtained from a temporary meteorological mast constructed at the topographic high point of Ithaca College’s land holdings on South Hill. Before IC embarks on a financial and carbon emissions abatement project to develop our wind resources, it is critical that we subject these wind speed data to intense scrutiny. An independent analysis of our wind speed data would require some familiarity with statistical methods, multiple linear regression modeling, management of large databases, and the principles of wind power development. This is an example of an ideal project that can be started right away with existing resources. Make a solar cell and test it. Solar cells are one of the oldest sources of renewable energy. Thin-film photovoltaics use an extremely thin layer of active semiconductor the material that actually converts sunlight into electricity, which can be made from a variety of compounds. The semiconductor layers of thin-film cells are only a few millionths of a meter thick and are deposited on inexpensive materials such as glass. Efficiency has improved over the last decade, and thin films have recently burst into the marketplace. The US is a world leader in thin film module manufacturing, and US production of thin films is soon expected to exceed that of crystalline silicon. Novel thin films can be layered to form a multijunction cell capture more of the suns energy. Each layer produces electricity from a different wavelength of light. This project is another eample of a thesis project that can be started right away with only minor augmentation of existing resources. Make a transparent oxide solar cell using Pulsed Laser Deposition. Modern research in solar cells focuses on increasing the efficiency of existing solar cell materials, as well as searching for new materials for novel applications. For example, transparent oxide semiconductors offer the promise that any window can become a solar cell. Many of these materials, from silicon to the newer transparent oxide semiconductors, can be grown quickly and cheaply via pulsed laser deposition. Due to its quick growth time and low cost, pulsed laser deposition has become the preferred growth method in many research labs and development facilities. We propose to request funds for a Pulsed Laser Deposition (PLD) system 64
for Ithaca College. The addition of a pulsed laser deposition system will allow Physics, Chemistry, and Environmental Science students to learn one of the most-used growth methods in materials science. We will give our undergraduates access to an experimental tool they will otherwise only encounter in graduate school or once they are employed by a large company. A PLD system at Ithaca College will allow our students to learn this state-of-the-art thin film growth technique before leaving Ithaca College. Students will learn to analyze the physical and chemical properties of the thin films after they have been grown. Moreover, we will use the materials we grow in other courses, and create demonstration solar cells and test their efficiency. This will prepare Ithaca College students to participate in the new green economy. Help the college to design and implement a solar thermal demonstration project. Included in Ithaca College’s Climate Action Plan is a demonstration project for solar thermal hot water, ideally to be installed on a frequently used dormitory. Selecting the best technology for our climate goals and hot water use patterns will be an important phase of the project that lends itself well to student involvement. Each building on the campus has different hot water use and temperature constraints, different hot water storage and piping designs, and each rooftop has different installation and access constraints. Optimizing a system to operate within these constraints, so as to exhibit the best available solar thermal technology, is not a problem we can safely leave to bidders from the solar thermal industry. This proposed thesis topic requires knowledge of thermal physics, an understanding of fluid flow, and basic proficiency with cost-benefit analyses. 8.3
New Summer Preparatory Courses for Taking a Renewable Energy Certification Exam
The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) qualifies installers in the state for work on the electrical grid and manages state renewable energy incentives. NYSERDA and retail customers are increasingly requiring (or requesting) certification from installers. The North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) offers guidance to sites seeking to offer training and certification programs. Ithaca College’s focus on sustainability and renewable energy and our central location in the state make us an ideal candidate for becoming an accredited training and testing site. Although NABCEP offers a number of renewable energy certification programs, we propose to focus only on photovoltaics, with the possibility of expanding to be reviewed at a later date. NABCEP offers guidance for sites seeking to develop accredited training and specifies the following sequence of steps for a complete training regimen that will qualify a PV installer: • 1: Entry Level Course • 2: Entry Level Certification • 3: Installers Course 65
• 4: Installers Certification • 5: NYSERDA Installers Certification We will begin by establishing an Entry Level course for photovoltaics (PV) (step 1 in the list above). The certification exam (step 2) is administered by NABCEP, and we will explore the option of becoming a certification examination site with NABCEP. After a few years experience with the PV entry level work we will explore options in offering other entry level courses in solar thermal systems and small wind systems. If the entry-level courses serve a regional niche and attract enough students, then we may also study options for staffing certified instructors and work towards offering Installer Certification Courses (step 3). NABCEP administers Installer Certification exam(step 4) [Note: at this time we do not propose to administer the actual certification exams, only to prepare students to take them.] , and NYSERDA administers state certification (step 5). Implicit in the certification sequence is a gradual increase in technical capability. A person who completes our proposed Entry Level preparatory course and subsequently passes the NABCEP certification exam has demonstrated a very basic, elementary knowledge of photovoltaic systems. The knowledge demonstrated by passing this test does not replace the knowledge, skills or abilities of the electrical or other construction trades, or those of other professions or degree programs that require considerably more academic and/or practical experience. It should also be noted that individuals passing the Entry Level certification exam should not be confused with Certified PV Installers. The latter can only be achieved by highly experienced individuals who have passed a much more rigorous examination and have demonstrated the capability to supervise complete PV system installations, and who have a detailed working knowledge of the electrical codes, standards and accepted industry practice associated with PV installations. 8.3.1
We will continue working with local installer Rob Garrity of FinLo Renewable Energy (http://www.finloenergy.com/) who will serve as a consultant on the development of our Entry Level PV summer preparatory course. Mr. Garrity is a nationally certified NABCEP PV Installer, as well as a New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware state licensed installer. He has been designing and installing photovoltaic systems for eight years, as well as building a wide international PV industry network. According to Mr. Garrity, NABCEP is the only nationally recognized certifying body in the United States. If other certifying bodies grow to equal prominence, (e.g. the Instititute for Sustainable Power), then we will study their programs as well. Certification programs offered by NABCEP are relatively new, and certification by NABCEP is not universally required in the renewable energy industry, however recognition is growing and more and more contractors and/or customers are requiring NABCEP certification. A team of two faculty, one staff member, and two students will visit the NABCEP home office near Albany, NY to initiate the process of becoming a NABCEP registered training site. 66
In year 2, one of us will take the NABCEP Entry Level PV course offered in New York state by a registered provider. With the goal of becoming a registered provider of a NABCEP Entry Level course, we will design our own course, choose textbook(s), and begin the NABCEP application process to get our own course registered. An advantage to having our course registered by NABCEP is that we will appear in the NABCEP registered sites listing. The nearest entry level course in the listing to Ithaca College is offered at SUNY ESF in Syracuse. During year 2, we will organize the facilities required to teach the course, and advertise through campus news, campus websites, news outlets, and Cornell Cooperative Extension offices to our target IC students and the Ithaca community. We will work with campus Residential Life and Facilities planners to establish a summer institute that is comprised of a two-week-long course. Upon completion of the course(s) taught in accordance with the NABCEP PV entry level learning objectives, and prior to taking the NABCEP PV Entry Level Certification Exam, students should have demonstrated a basic understanding of the following principles and learning objectives: • • • • • • • • • •
PV Markets and Applications Safety Basics Electricity Basics Solar Energy Fundamentals PV Module Fundamentals System Components PV System Sizing Principles PV System Electrical Design PV System Mechanical Design Performance Analysis, Maintenance and Troubleshooting
Students taking the entry level exam will be tested to some degree in all ten categories. Consequently, in teaching preparatory courses for the exam, it will be important that all ten categories be adequately covered. 8.3.3
In years 3 through 5, we will gain experience by offering the NABCEP PV Entry Level Course. We will consult with local installers on course modifications and potential field experience for students and instructors. In year 5, we will also study our options for staffing a PV installer certification preparatory course. The material covered in this course is more technical in nature and NABCEP requires instructors to be certified to teach the course. If offering such a course seems feasible we 67
will need to hire a certified instructor. We will also study New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) installer certification requirements, with an eye toward becoming NYSERDA certified. In the state of New York, PV installers must be certified by NYSERDA to be qualified for state renewable energy incentives. 8.3.4
New Laboratory Renewable Energy Installations: Campus Learning Facilities
This portion of our initiatives require substantial capital infrastructure. The physics department is in conversations with the Dean of the School of Humanities and Sciences about this initiative and our capital funding needs. In collaboration with our Vice President of Community and Government Relations we have submitted an appropriations request to our Congressional representatives. Senator Gillibrand sent a team from her staff to visit campus to learn more about our proposal. We have recently learned that Congressman Hinchey has submitted our Clean Energy Equipment request to the Energy and Water Appropriations subcommittee. As with many of these types of requests, we are now sitting with our fingers crossed. Photovoltaic panels with performance data logging and archiving: We envision a photovoltaic (PV) demonstration net consisting of three different solar cell technologies: organic (and/or transparent) thin films, amorphous silicon, and crystalline silicon. The installations will be part of a network that will utilize wireless transmission of energy production information to a central location in the science building. Information from the different technologies will be directly comparable and will serve to demonstrate current issues in PV research and development. All PV panels will be used directly for campus research, energy, and emissions reductions applications; some to power research and teaching equipment. Power and energy data will be logged and archived for performance simulation and other student projects that focus on a statistical understanding of solar energy data streams. Most of these thin film solar cells are promising for the very near future. They are moving the industry away from high mass (and costly to install) panels and towards more flexible laminated substrates that offer a wider range of applicability for architectural solutions for both new build and retrofitting of commercial and residential buildings. Our goals are educating students about these materials and about the opportunities embedded in the challenges of their development to meet the needs of a clean energy future. First, we will request capital funds to support the purchase and installation of an amorphous silicon and microcrystalline 25.3 kW Photovoltaic System composed of 128 W thin film modules (by Sharp). The system includes a data acquisition system that reports to the internet, making system statistics available from any point of web access. The system includes a 25 year power warranty on the Sharp modules and a ten year warranty on the inverters. The physics department will work with other H&S departments (such as the new environmental studies and sciences department) to maximize the multidisciplinary opportunities for 68
engaging students in the development of this integrated program. We will engage students in setting up the array, calibrating the data acquisition system, and using the logged data in courses. This project is scalable, and can be sized according to available funds. The requested funds would cover an array composed of 198 modules covering 297 square meters, enough to cover the student Fitness Center on the campus quad. The Fitness Center has a metal standing-seam roof ideal for PV laminates. The roof is not shaded by trees or other buildings, and is visible from all over campus because most buildings around it are either uphill or taller. The power generated will be tied to the campus grid and used to power the electric lights and treadmills of the Fitness Center and its gyms. The Fitness Center system will communicate with the central data monitor in the science building providing continuously updated energy data monitoring for comparison to the other PV systems on the campus PV net. Second, we will seek capital funds to purchase and install a crystalline silicon 10 kW photovoltaic system for powering astronomy teaching telescopes. The PV panels will be mounted to telescope piers in a field outside of the science building. These PV panels will charge batteries housed in the base of the piers that are then used to power the telescopes to track the stars during evening astronomy labs and public viewing nights. Each PV panel will be equipped with a digital data logger to keep track of energy generated and power available. The cost of this system includes the PV panels, the telescopes, and the piers for 5 set ups. The Astronomy PV system will communicate with the central data monitor in the science building providing continuously updated energy data monitoring for comparison to the other systems on the campus PV net. Finally, we will seek capital funds to support the purchase and installation of an organic (and/or transparent) Thin Film Photovoltaic 5 kW System composed of modules implementing some of the latest and most exciting advances in photovoltaics. This system will be installed on the roof of the science building and tilted up to face south for optimal performance. The science building rooftop PV system will communicate with the central data monitor located on the first floor of the science building to provide continuously updated energy data monitoring for comparison to the other PV systems on the campus PV net. Solar Thermal (hot water) panels with performance data logging and archiving: The purpose of this laboratory is to demonstrate and study the physics of conversion of sunlight to thermal energy. Ithaca College will install a large array of flat-plate and/or evacuated tube solar collector panels for educational and climate action (emissions reductions) purposes. The size of the array can be scaled to fit available funds. Requested are funds to support a system of about 7,700 square feet on the roof of the Emerson Hall Dormitory. Calculations that compare the manufacturers stated performance of flat plate collectors to evacuated tube collectors indicate that the optimal system would be flat plate collectors, however this has not been tested. There are endless variations on methods for transporting and storing the thermal energy collected, and our comparative system will explore 2 or more of the available options. 69
The total installed capacity on the Emerson Dormatory roof would be capable of heating 2.5 million gallons of water per year with the suns energy, saving the campus about $13,700 per year. The total cost of the system is estimated to be approximately $350,000, and, because of the annual savings in utility bills, would pay itself off in 12 - 23 years. Because this system would use the suns energy instead of natural gas, Ithaca College could realize a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of about 69 tons per year. This test project will serve to study the feasibility of solar water heating systems for Ithaca College. Lessons learned from the first installation will be used to develop specifications for a campus-wide installation. Depending on results from the first project, the aim of the Climate Action Plan is to deploy solar water heating systems on all dorms and dining facilities. Students will design informational posters, signs, websites, and kiosks for the dormitory lobby that will further leverage the impact of the project by engaging non-resident students, their families, and other visitors. This pilot project will serve as a training ground for IC personnel on technical issues of heating with solar energy in preparation for a larger deployment in 2016. Wind turbine electricity generator with performance data logging and archiving: Ithaca College has spent the past few years pursuing utility-grade wind turbines for campus electricity generation. Very few campuses own large wind turbines, and if IC achieves its Climate Action Plan goal of 1-2 turbines by year 2016, then IC would be one of the premiere institutions in the US for renewable energy demonstration. IC recently conducted a wind power feasibility study using a $25K grant from NYSERDA. Results indicated that the wind speeds are high enough to make a wind power project economically attractive. While these large-scale plans develop, IC has a need for educational facilities that are more practical for hands-on study. The campus has a bid from a local company to install a small 10 kW turbine that would log and archive wind speed and energy production data accessible through the internet. The turbine will be installed on the roof of the science building. A machine up to 10 kW fits within NYSERDA state incentives for educational institutions and would be matched with a grant of up to 70% of the installed cost. The cost to IC ($38K plus $12K) includes the structural engineering for the science building roof to ensure compliance with safety regulations. The existing science building also has a roof that is uniquely well-suited to rooftop energy installations. The roof has hand-rails that encircle it, making it one of the safest roofs on campus for demonstration projects involving students. We will use existing plans from our structural engineer to add a wind turbine to the roof of the existing building. The new turbine will be visible and remarkable to all visitors as the science building is prominent on campus. The power from the wind turbine will be used to charge the batteries that are necessary for the field work components of physics, environmental science, and biology research. Battery charging is an excellent use of the power generated by the demonstration wind turbine, and it does not matter if charging takes a couple of days because the equipment 70
is used intermittently. A potential student project could be an examination of the energy draw / cost profiles of different batteries as an introduction to some of the limits of today’s storage technologies.
9. Initiatives Continuing from the 2004 Assessment and Planning Prepared by Luke Keller and Beth Ellen Clark Joseph While we have accomplished most of the goals we set in 2004, there are a number of initiatives and projects that are on-going and/or require a significant effort to maintain. Some of our 2004 goals are reprised in this document as parts of new initiatives. The few that are not included specifically in new initiatives, but still require work or significant maintenance, are listed here. So, for example, in the 2004 assessment and planning (and in subsequent reports) we identified evaluation of assessment data as a priority, but that is also a priority in this 2010 report so assessment is not included in this section. As a department we agree that these are important to the quality and vitality of the physics department and thus warrant continued substantial effort despite not having their own specific sections in the new planning and assessment document. We list initiatives continuing from the 2004 A&P under their names from the 2004 report. 9.1
Turn Up the Heat: General Education Courses with Laboratory Components
Although the performance-based physics laboratory (a.k.a. CNS 208/206) enables laboratory activities involving all students (up to 99) in a general education course, meaningful laboratory components to these courses requires a significant and deliberate effort. We have made significant progress incorporating laboratory activities into the PHYS 10100 and 10200 courses due to degree programs outside of the physics department that require their students to take these courses needed these courses to contain experimental activities.The other general education physics courses (Astronomy, Energy, Earth, Sound) have made varying use of the laboratory activity option, depending on the instructor. An on-going discussion is needed to decide if we want a more substantial experimental component for all of our general education physics courses. If the answer is that we do want a substantial laboratory component, then the discussion must turn to exactly how we take fullest advantage of our classroom-laboratory facilities. This is especially important if we intend to staff our general education courses with temporary or adjunct faculty. The discussions should include investigation of: • how much class time we should devote to laboratory activities and experiments
• whether it is important for physics general education students to perform actual scientific experiments, as opposed to watching demonstrations or investigations of physical phenomena • how much overlap there is between the laboratory components of the different general education physics courses • how to assess the efficacy of laboratory components in general education physics courses (e.g. should we assess learning specifically in the laboratory component or just the course as a whole?) 9.2
Ten by Ten: Establish Performance-based Physics
This item is very closely related to the discussion of laboratory components for general education courses. We have all contributed to a very good system of teaching introductory physics in a performance-based environment (where doing physics is as important as hearing about physics). Maintaining this environment will require continual work and collaboration in the department. The following elements of performance-based physics will require ongoing work: • how much class time we should devote to laboratory activities and experiments • developing and refining a repository of context-rich problems for PHYS 10100, 10200, 11700, 11800, 21700, 21800, 17400, and 17500. • refining a series of think-pair-share (PRS) questions • how to assess the efficacy of performance-based physics for our majors • insuring that the learning outcomes listed in our assessment plan for introductory physics are addressed consistently within and across our introductory physics courses for physics majors
Build it, They Will Come: Refurbish and Maintain Machine Shop
Jennifer Mellott has done an outstanding job getting the machine shop well stocked and the machines and tools complete and well maintained. Jennifer and Luke have also agreed on a safety training and certification policy and process. In order for the shop to remain a safe and useful department facility, faculty and students using the shop must be aware of the policies and safe use of the shop. Faculty who have research students using the shop (even if the faculty do not) are responsible for encouraging students to use the shop responsibly.
10. Report Card on our 2004 Assessment and Planning Initiatives Prepared by Bruce Thompson 10.1
As part of our Assessment and Planning document, which we submitted in 2004, the Physics Department outlined three broad goals that we characterized as follows: 1. Turn Up The Heat - Enhance the curriculum so that the IC Physics Department is a first rank liberal arts department with a unique experiential style. 2. Ten By Ten - Increase the average number of physics graduates to 10 by 2010. 3. Build It, They Will Come - Create and maintain an infrastructure that supports our teaching and research plans. We further identified secondary strategies we planned on taking towards those goals and prioritized them into primary (immediate) tasks and secondary (deferred) tasks. These are described completely in section 2 of the 2003-2004 Assessment and Planning document. Both the primary and secondary tasks were to be reconsidered at the start of each academic year to set the tasks for that year. We have found the annual planning retreat a useful way to focus our efforts for the year while making progress toward our overall goals. One of the elements of each years progress report is the Strategic Plan Scorecard which lists all of the goals and strategies developed for the original plan in 2004. The Scorecard is in sections corresponding to the three main goals and with subsections indicating whether it is an immediate strategy or deferred one. Attached is an update to the Scorecard. Some items have been added to the 2004 A & P strategies as our needs and thinking evolved. These have been added to the Scorecard by listing them as NaN (Not a Number since there is no correspondence with the 2004 Plan). As you can see from the Scorecard there are many different measures of the progress in the strategies and goals. In addition to the measures listed we are also developing and implementing many other measurement tools to supplement these main measures. We are fortunate in the Physics community to have several nationally developed concept and attitudinal surveys to use to assess our students progress and have implemented their use. In addition, we have become more formal in our tracking of various indicators of the success of the department in areas like recruitment and alumni relations.
Analysis of Assessment Results
We have made excellent progress toward our objectives (and thus our goals) over the past six years. As shown on the Scorecard, we have made considerable progress not only in the areas identified as our primary priority but in many of the secondary priority areas and in new priorities as well. Particularly successful outcomes have been: 1. With our 14 physics graduates in 2008, we now average more than 10 graduates each year over the last 3 years. As such, we join only 52 of 511 institutions who offer a physics undergraduate degree only. Ithaca College appears in the American Institute of Physics nationally disseminated report in 2010 since there is a two year lag in their compilation report. Our projections indicate that we will remain above the average of 10 for the foreseeable future (see Physics Dept. Graduates graph: figure ??). 2. Continued development of teaching strategies based on the capabilities of the Performance Based Teaching Laboratory room. Studies are in progress on teaching pedagogy and effectiveness in Introductory Physics and Introductory Astronomy courses affecting over 600 students a year. 3. The Bachelor of Science degree in Physics was approved by New York State and we graduated 7 students with a B.S. degree in Physics in May 2008 and 2009. Four more are in the program to graduate this year (2010). 4. We had a successful search to hire a 7th faculty member in a 3 year NTEN position in support of the B.S. degree. Matt Price will be started in Fall 2008. We also successfully searched for a full year sabbatical replacement position (Andrew Crouse), which has been extended for 2 additional years as other faculty members take sabbatical leaves. We have also received approval to conduct a search for a 7th tenure eligible position that will convert the 3 year NTEN position into a tenure eligible position. 5. A 5 year staffing plan was developed by the department. Staffing appears to be stable for this period after considerable flux over the past 7 years. We were able to balance our course offerings between semesters and standardize the credit hours for students in those courses. We will add a hands-on laboratory experience in our Physics of Sound course (in response to requests from the Park and Music schools) and offer an Observational Astronomy laboratory for students in the general education Astronomy courses. We worked with the Computer Science department to develop an introductory course which better meets our students needs. 6. Participation by students in research activities continues to grow (figure ??). We expect that the numbers will begin to level off as the faculty reaches its carrying capacity and as the number of students reaches an appreciable fraction of our majors. 7. We helped develop the new Masters in Physics Teaching degree and our first graduate from the program (Darius Romero) is currently the high school physics teaching at West Corning High School, NY. 76
Strategic Plan Scorecard
The first column of the Scorecard lists the section number of the Assessment and Planning document which gives a complete description of the strategy. NaN indicates a strategy that was not in the original 2004 action plan. The second column is the title of the strategy. The third lists the assessment goal of the strategy. The fourth lists the objectives for AY08-098. The fifth column lists the completed objectives for the time span since the start of the plan, that is, cumulative over the years 2004-2009. The sixth column is the units of measurement for the objectives. The seventh is a reference number to the References section that is not currently used. The last column has short notes.
Strategic Plan Scorecard - Physics Department Plan Ref. No.
Ten by Ten
Activate the physics club
11-Aug-09 08-09 Obj
Page 2 of 3 Units
Avg 10 grads by 2010
Notes see graduate progress graph
Completed / Maintain All Phys. Stu.
Guidelines for 3/2 program
Talks with Mech E and Civil and EE
Participate in MAT program
Resp. to Req.
Phys 570 course developed for college plan
Establish a majors room
Student use started in F06
Maintain seminar series and Physics Café and Astro nights
6; 2; 10
15; 1; 4
Designated outstanding SPS club 05, 06, 07, 08
Great seminars and Café; need more Astro nights
Primary Priority - 07-08 2.2.1.a
Establish performanced based physics
Seek NSF grant; complete constr.
Grant yes; construction yes
Room and 101-102 study established; Astronomy studies begun S08
Expand and maintain active web site
Establish pathways to the major
Summer advising and admissions programs
Activate alumni (newsletter)
Newletter not produced
No pregress in AY07-08
One of the best on campus! Revised F07
Send first in June 07
Continued work by advisors to ensure interested students can complete the major on time Ithaca Today success, letters to accept/paid, cont. admissions tracking
Figure 10.1: Strategic Plan Scorecard for the “Ten by Ten” initiative
Strategic Plan Scorecard - Physics Department Plan Ref. No. 2.1
Turn up the heat
Challenge and lead students
Page 1 of 3
Completed / Maintain 2.1.2.a
Activate teaching and dept. assessment
Plan revised, continued implementation
Ensure research opportunities
Number of different student projects in research in 06-07 and summer 06
Establish Astrophysics course
Write dept. scholarship policy
Persently on Provost's desk after Dean and Attourney approvals.
Student assistants in 101,102
Sucessful tutoring center established
Establish Advanced Topics capstone course(s)
Phys 470 Topics established and offered 2x; Phys 498 established for BS
Establish Optics course
Course taught as Phys 470 Topics in S06
Offered as 470 Adv. Topics
Primary Priority - 07-08 2.1.1.a
Performance-based Physics - intro courses
Seek NSF grant; complete constr.
Grant yes; construction yes
Room and 101-102 study established; Astronomy studies begun S08
BS degree program
Approved by Dean with 3-year NTEN support; APC action in Fall 07
Hire 7th faculty member in support of BS
Matt Price hired
Conform to college process
Data continues to be gathered, some informed decisions made
Content and credits discussions continue
Evaluate assessment data
Reconsider Intro Lab courses for majors
Balance fall and spring courses
General schedual changes to accommodate the BS.
Standardize credit in 117, 118, 217, 218
Changes agreed by faculty; taken to APC in F08
Reconsider the Math/CS req. of major
worked with CS on revised intro course and with Math for BS requirements
Gen Ed courses with laboratory components
Astro lab will be offered in S09; 160 Sound lab will be offered in F10
Standardize student course evaluations
College-wide initiative defunct, wrote our own
Establish student portfolios
Write standarsized evaluationo
Deferred, rethinking 20
Figure 10.2: Strategic Plan Scorecard for the “Turn up the Heat” initiative
Strategic Plan Scorecard - Physics Department Plan Ref. No.
Page 3 of 3
Have best personnel and facilities
Build it, they will come.
Hire a 6th Faculty member
Estabish a tutoring center by students
Instructional laptops for faculty
Purchase laptops for 120, 326, 351
Destops converted to laptops on renewal, summer 05
Move 101, 102 to CNS
Refurbish and maintain machine shop
Create a lab space in CNS 278
Network and software for efficient lab use
Organize demo equipment
Cleaning storage and reorganizing ongoing
Rewrite department policies
Rewrite draft complete; department discussion completed
Develop dept. staffing plan
Make plan for dept and BS
5 year plan needs revision
Organize Advanced Lab (rooms, equip., sked)
Rooms established; ongoing discussion of course content
Completed / Maintain Matt Sullivan hired Center run by students established for 101/102
101/102 moved 05-06; to Scale-Up in F06
Matt moving into the room in May07
Primary Priority - 07-08
Secondary priority None
Figure 10.3: Strategic Plan Scorecard for the “Build it They Will Come” initiative
11. Annual Programmatic Assessment Process Prepared by Luke Keller and Andrew Crouse As part of our own desire to assess our program and requirements of the Middle States Accreditation process, the physics department has identified key competencies expected of students upon completion of each of our undergraduate physics degree programs. We have either developed or are developing ways of assessing these competencies. 11.1
Introduction and Rationale
Individual faculty members have identified courses in which students have the opportunity to develop each competency. The faculty met to identify the best place to assess each competency. For some competencies multiple opportunities for assessment were identified. A standing committee was established to coordinate the assessment efforts of the physics department and to communicate our results to the school and the college. Each semester the committee, in consultation with the department and the affected faculty members, identifies a set of competencies to assess. At the present time, the department has assessed most of the competencies once. The department has also identified certain of these competencies which were felt to be inadequately assessed. The department has begun a process of revising these procedures and reassessing the relevant competencies. The department views assessment as a long term process which has just begun. Before meaningful conclusions can be drawn, assessment procedures for each competency must be examined and revised. This will take multiple iterations. In addition to assessments benefits for the physics department and for Ithaca College, the departments assessment process could contribute to a broader understanding of how physics majors develop skills and ideas over the course of an undergraduate major. Currently the physics education research literature has very few longitudinal studies of this kind. The size and cohesiveness of Ithaca Colleges physics department may make it an ideal environment in which to study these questions. The physics department does not current conduct assessment of our Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) since that program is part of the Ithaca College Department of Education. However, we should discuss whether assessing the physics parts of the MAT (graduate level physics courses, research projects, work as TA) should be part of our programmatic assessment policy and program.
Our assessment plan, summarized below, focuses on student learning outcomes, where each outcome will be addressed (e.g. which of our courses), and how each outcome will be assessed. 11.2.1
This learning outcome is the same for all physics programs (BA, BA Teaching, BA 3-2 Engineering, BA Math-Phys, and BS). Expected outcome: Students will be able to think critically and analytically, thinking in context, think like physicists, and ask good questions. Potentially Assessed in (PHYS): • 30100: Mathematics-Physics interplay • 30500: Mathematics-Physics interplay • 11800: Consider the extremes • 12000: Three Lab Reports, Students design, conduct, and report on an experiment using analytical and critical skills • 32000: Two experiments • 21700: Weekly context-rich problems, labs • 31100: Modeling projects, HW • 36000: Conduct experiments, lab reports • 45100: Design and conduct experiments, lab reports • 42100: Thinking in context, mathematics-physics interplay • 45500: Thinking in context, mathematics-physics interplay Assessment tools: MPEX (think like a physicist about successful ways to learn physics, Maryland Physics Expectations Survey) administered longitudinally: PHYS 11700, 12000, 21800, 31100, 32000, 42100 Critical/analytical thinking assessment in 30500, 31100, 32000 (all BA students must take at least one of these). E.g. specifically ask students to demonstrate analytical and critical thinking on course exams and projects. 82
This learning outcome is the same for all physics programs (BA, BA Teaching, BA 3-2 Engineering, BA Math-Phys, and BS). Expected outcome: Students will be able to apply their mathematical and computational skills to physics. Potentially Assessed in (PHYS):
• 11700: Students solve quantitative exercises and problems every week • 11800: Calculus, integration, defining the changing quantities 12000: Students solve quantitative exercises and problems every week. Students present mathematical descriptions of experimental results. • 21700: Weekly quantitative homework sets • 21800: complex math, differential equations for quantum systems • 22500: complex math, differential equations for quantum systems • 30100: Extensive mathematics exercises over a broad range of advanced mathematical skills including complex analysis, differential equations, integral transforms, calculus of variations • 30500: homework, exams • 31100: diff eq, numerical modeling of physical system • 32000: Students solve quantitative exercises and problems every week • 32600: homework, exams • 42100: complex math, partial diff eq, linear algebra applied to quantum systems • 45500: homework, exams
Assessment tools: PHYS 30100 (Mathematical Methods for Physics) comprehensive final exam score. 83
Problem Solving Skills
This learning outcome is the same for all physics programs (BA, BA Teaching, BA 3-2 Engineering, BA Math-Phys, and BS). Expected outcome: Students will be able to recognize and define a physics problem, effectively use estimation skills, and apply successful problem solving across the physics curriculum. Potentially Assessed in (PHYS):
• 11700: Students estimate and solve physics problems every week • 11800: Students solve physics problems every week • 12000: Students solve problems every week. Students use MS-Excel to reduce data and graphically represent data • 21700: Weekly homework problem sets, four context-rich problems • 30500: homework, exams • 32000: Students solve physics problems every week • 45500: homework, exams
Assessment tools: Solutions to specific problems (one per course): PHYS 31100, 32000, 42100, 30500. Solutions will be assessed using a rubric designed to evaluate problem solving skills independent of the course grades. 11.2.4
Data Analysis Skills
This learning outcome is the same for all physics programs (BA, BA Teaching, BA 3-2 Engineering, BA Math-Phys, and BS). Expected outcome: Students will be able to create and interpret representations of physical systems. Including (a) draw conclusions from data, calculations, and/or experimental results, (b) produce and interpret physical models, (c) and make and interpret diagrams and other graphics. Potentially Assessed in (PHYS): 84
• 11800: Schematic diagrams, representations of vector fields • 12000: Students use MS-Excel to reduce data and graphically represent data. Students run three experiments that require them to interpret data and draw conclusions. • 21700: Weekly labs/context-rich problems • 22500: graph experimental data, compare theoretical circuit predictions to lab measurements, determine properties of circuits • 30100: Modeling/plotting mathematical functions in MatLab • 30500: Matlab project • 31100: numerical modeling project requires students to produce a numerical model of a physical system, interpret and present the results on a poster using pictures, diagrams and graphs. • 32000: Students run two experiments that require them to interpret data and draw conclusions • 32600: schematic drawings of circuit designs • 36000: Bi-weekly lab experiments • 45100: Bi-weekly lab experiments • 45500: Matlab project • x9900: Individual research projects • 49800: Detailed descriptions of data analysis in thesis
Assessment tools: Final lab report in 36000 or 32600. Reports will be assessed using a rubric designed to evaluate data analysis skills independent of the course grades. Modeling skills will be evaluated in final projects of PHYS 31100 or PHYS 30500 using a rubric designed to evaluate modeling skills independent of the course grades 85
This learning outcome is the same for BA, BA Teaching, and BA 3-2 Engineering: Expected outcome: Students will be able to learn and use lab skills, as well as data acquisition, and data and uncertainty analysis. For BS: Expected outcome: Students will be able to design experiments, learn and use lab skills, as well as data acquisition, and data and uncertainty analysis. Potentially Assessed in (PHYS): • 12000: 5 Students build a photogate timer and use this timer in three experiments. Students also design an experiment. Students use max/min error analysis to include putting error bars on graphs. • 21700: Five lab experiments • 22500: Homework design circuits. Labs: build and measure circuit properties • 32000: Students use data collection equipment during two experiments • 32600: 2 DAQ labs • 36000: Bi-weekly lab experiments • 45100: Bi-weekly lab experiments • x9900: Individual research projects • 49800: Detailed descriptions of experimental design and methods in thesis (BS ONLY) Assessment tools: Score on lab practical exam in PHYS 36000 or 32600 (All degrees). Senior thesis (BS). 11.2.6
This learning outcome is the same for all physics programs (BA, BA Teaching, BA 3-2 Engineering, BA Math-Phys, and BS). Expected outcome: Students will be able to use effective communication orally, visually, and in writing, and use literature review as part of lab report and other writing. 86
Potentially Assessed in (PHYS): • 11700: Students write a solution to a physics problem every week. Specifically, they identify important information, draw appropriate schematics, outline steps to the solution, explain their math steps using sentences, and write a detailed conclusion to include a paraphrased version of the question. • 12000: Students write a complete report on an experiment they designed and conducted. Students submit drafts of report sections and respond to feedback on the drafts when creating the final report. • 30100: Oral presentation of a higher math concept and physics application example • 30500: written homework style emphasized • 31100: Presentation of numerical modeling projects in poster session • 32000: Students write to mini-laboratory reports on the two experiments • 36000: Bi-weekly lab reports • 45100: Bi-weekly lab reports • x9900: Individual research presentations or papers • 49800: Senior thesis, drafting process is collaborative with advisor, teacher, classmates Assessment tools: Score on lab practical exam in PHYS 36000 or 32600 (BA, BA Teaching, BA 3-2 Engineering). Senior thesis (BS). 11.2.7
This learning outcome is the same for BA, BA Teaching, BA 3-2 Engineering, and BA Math-Phys: Expected outcome: Students will be able to master the physics core material, including advanced knowledge of physics subfields in their concentration, demonstrating both quantitative and conceptual understanding. For the BS: Expected outcome: Student will be able to master the physics core material, including advanced knowledge of all of the major physics subfields, demonstrating both quantitative and conceptual understanding. 87
Potentially Assessed in (PHYS):
• 11700: Students learn Newtonian Mechanics with explicit focus on building both a quantitative and conceptual understanding. • 11800: Students learn the physics of electricity and magnetism with focus on quantitative and conceptual understanding • 12000: Students demonstrate an understanding of Newton’s laws of motion • 21700: Students learn the physics of waves, optics, thermodynamics with focus on quantitative and conceptual understanding • 21800: subfields: special relativity, quantum mechanics • 30500: Major physics subfield • 31100: subfield: classical mechanics • 32000: Thermodynamics is one of the main subfields of physics. Students address the topic both mathematically and conceptually. • 42100: subfield: quantum mechanics • 45500: Major physics subfield
Assessment tools: Average of exam scores in 11700, 11800, 21700, 21800 and ALL advanced (3XXXX, 4XXXX) physics core material courses 11.2.8
Nature of Science
This learning outcome is the same for BA, BA Teaching, and BS: Expected outcome: Students will be able to articulate the nature of knowing and doing science. For BA 3-2 Engineering there is no expected outcome for articulating the nature of science. Potentially Assessed in (PHYS):
• 11700: Difference between a theory and a law is introduced 88
• 49800: Detailed written description of the entire process of a scientific study from conception to write-up in senior thesis
Assessment tools: VNOS (Views on the Nature of Science) standardized test administered in fall semester of the senior year. 11.2.9
This learning outcome is only for the BA 3-2 Engineering program: Expected outcome: If a student whom we send to an engineering program gets a degree in engineering, then the program is successful. Assessed in: Graduation requirement of engineering school. Assessment tools: Transcript.
12. Faculty and Staff Prepared by Michael ”Bodhi” Rogers and Beth Ellen Clark Joseph 12.1
As part of our Assessment and Planning process, Beth Ellen Clark Joseph interviewed Jill Ackerman (Administrative Assistant) and Jen Mellott (Equipment and Laboratory Technician), separately, about their perspective on the their jobs in the Physics Department. Here are their responses to the interview questions. Jen Mellott - Equipment and Laboratory Technician - 29 March 2010 1. Are your job duties and responsibilities well defined? Jen feels that her job duties and responsibilities are clearly defined. Periodic review occurs every two years and is conducted by the Chair. 2. Are your job priorities clearly established? Jen states that her job priorities are clearly established. Top priority is supporting the immediate needs of the faculty. Second priority is maintaining and supporting the needs of the classrooms. Third priority is supporting and meeting the needs of the students. Fourth priority is maintaining other equipment, and, last but not least, fifth priority is maintaining the accounts on the Physics budget spreadsheet and on Parnassus. 3. Is your workspace an efficient working environment? Jen feels that her workspace is adequate for her needs. 4. What short term changes (