What Else (Besides the Syllabus) Should Students Learn in Introductory Physics?

By David E. Pritchard, Analia Barrantes, Brian R. Belland; Published in: MIT Faculty Newsletter November/December 2009

Recently our education research group has turned its attention from studying micro-learning (see relate.mit.edu) to issues that lie at the heart of any educational reform – even though they are often overshadowed by discussions of what the syllabus topics should include. The questions we’re addressing include:

  • What should students learn?
  • What do they actually learn? and
  • What do they retain at graduation?

This contribution is based on a survey we administered to ~ 600 teachers and students concerning the first question – what students should learn in introductory physics. Since our survey was designed to emphasize student habits, pedagogical objectives, and overall student skills, it will be relevant to faculty in all General Institute Requirement (GIR) courses.

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