Physics 100: An Introductory Course for Under-prepared Students
International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, Bloomington, IN, October 2004 (Contributed Talk)
The introductory physics sequence is seen to be a major point of attrition for engineering students, especially those from under-represented groups. For example, at the University of Illinois, about 20% of the students in the first physics course receive course grades of D or lower, with this fraction increasing to 35% for Latino/as and 60% for African-Americans. Indeed, 70% of the Latino/as and 80% of the African-Americans that leave the College of Engineering without a degree receive a grade of D or lower in at least two introductory physics courses. To address this problem we have developed Physics 100, an initial short course for under-prepared students (http://online.physics.uiuc.edu/courses/phys100/fall03/). This nine -week course makes extensive use of novel web-based exercises, followed by a weekly two-hour meeting that features cooperative group work. In this talk, I will describe the design of the course and the challenges of making a meaningful assessment of its effectiveness.