Physics Education Research

Innovations in Undergraduate Physics Education at Illinois

Discussion Sections

Several recent developments have stimulated our Department of Physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) to undertake a major revitalization of our introductory physics curriculum. First, physics education research has provided new insights to radically improve the way we teach physics, and second, the computer revolution has provided new, exciting pedagogical tools. These new capabilities, coupled with the need to provide greater flexibility for our students, and the capability of the World Wide Web to provide an interactive learning environment, have stimulated us to revise completely our introductory courseware. We believe we are establishing a paradigm for science education for the 21st century that develops higher-order thinking competencies, promotes collaborative learning, and improves communication skills.

Over the past few years (Fall 1996 - Spring 2000), both the calculus-based introductory physics sequence (Physics 111-114) and the algebra-based sequence (Physics 101-102) have been completely restructured. These courses are taken by nearly 5000 undergraduate students each year at the UIUC. This fundamental curriculum revision has five overall objectives:


Well-constructed courses in physics provide the foundation of technical and scientific understanding for most science and engineering students — "Physics is the liberal arts education for a technological society" —and we believe our Department's investment in improved instruction in fundamental physics will provide substantive positive returns, both for our students and for their future employers.

Papers Discussing the Reform

Presentations Given

Links to Materials Used in Our Courses

Examples of Our Latest Efforts in Web-based Learning

Websites of Our Reformed Courses

If you have questions about this page, please e-mail Michael Scott. cst