October 06, 2006

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LEWISBURG, Pa. — The introductory course sequence “Classical and Modern Physics I and II,” taught in the Department of Physics & Astronomy at Bucknell University, has been recognized as “one of the top examples of best practices courses in a national study of physics courses conducted by the Center for Educational Policy Research (CEPR) on behalf of the College Board.”

According to the CEPR, a total of 139 courses from across the country were reviewed with 23 institutions being selected for recognition. Of the 23 institutions, five ultimately will receive full endorsement for their “best practice” courses. Specific elements of the Bucknell course were designated as “exemplary” as described by CEPR.

This calculus-based survey course, team-taught by members of the Department of Physics & Astronomy, typically enrolls about 300 students in the fall semester, and about 220 students in the spring semester.

Students with majors that cover the breadth of both the Arts and Sciences College and the Engineering College attend lectures, problem sessions and labs as part of the course, which also has on-line components.

The Department of Physics & Astronomy dedicates, on average, eight of its 11 faculty members to the teaching of this course. Documents for the course were submitted to CEPR by Professors David Schoepf and Krishna Chowdary in the spring of 2006.

Study informs redesign of AP courses

The study sought to identify best practices college courses that could inform the redesign of AP courses in physics. The goal of the redesign process is to ensure that AP courses reflect the best of college teaching.

To identify best practices courses, CEPR assembled a panel of national experts to analyze top courses from a wide range of institutions. The panel reviewed the nominated courses and identified the critical components of best practices present in each course. The College Board then convened a commission in physics to develop new AP course descriptions, new AP exam specifications, and professional development guidelines for AP teachers. The commission, which is meeting over the current academic year, will utilize the study’s findings as a key resource to fulfill its charge. The final result of the commission’s work will be AP courses that closely reflect the best practices of college courses in physics.

The Bucknell Department of Physics & Astronomy has a faculty of 11 members, including three astronomers. The department offers both B.S. and B.A. degree programs averaging about 12 majors per year.

Posted Oct. 6, 2006


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