Featured project: IOLab

PER has developed the IOLab system, built around a low-cost, easy-to-use, all-purpose handheld device that performs a myriad of functions for both introductory and advanced physics courses.


Engaging Students with Web-based Lectures

Prelectures (PLs) are web-based activities that engage the student in the presentation of new material. We use these PLs in a variety of different environments. They were born of necessity in Fall 2002 to fill the students’ perceived need of a lecture component to our preparatory course, Physics 100. In Fall 2003, we created a set of PLs that were used as a supplementary tutorial for solving problems using Gauss’ Law in our calculus-based E&M course, Physics 212. In Fall 2004, we implemented a complete set of PLs in the "pre-lecture" mode in our first semester algebra-based course, Physics 101. The prelectures are designed as the necessary preparation for an in-class lecture that actively engages the students in learning. We have recently developed a complete set of PLs for both introductory calculus-based courses, Physics 211 and 212.

In our current implementation, students access the PLs by using a web browser to view animated lecture slides. The navigation of the slides is controlled by an Adobe Flash program such that at a few points during the lecture, the student is presented with a (usually conceptual) multiple-choice question on the current material. If the student answers correctly, they are given an explanation of the answer and can proceed to the next slide. If the student answers incorrectly, they are given an explanation of why their choice is incorrect and, depending on the specific implementation, is either immediately given another try at the question or is presented with a different question that must be answered correctly before they get another try at the original question. In any case, once they answer the initial question correctly, they can proceed to the next slide.

Please explore our prelectures under Teacher Resources.

Visit the website.