Assessing and Enhancing Student Learning in the Advanced Physics Lab

Presentation Date: 

Monday, July 19, 2010


AAPT Summer Meeting, 2010 (Portland, Oregon)
Efforts to reform instructional physics labs--by defining measurable goals and improving student learning--have led to several innovations (i.e. rubrics for enhanced formative assessment) at the introductory level. However, researchers have yet to explore similar innovations in advanced laboratory courses. In an effort to fill this void, we investigated the observable aspects of student learning, culled from submitted written work and discussions between students and faculty, in light of specific changes to the advanced lab course (clear statement of learning goals, better-defined activities, and rubrics). Course goals related primarily to improving experimentalist laboratory skills and enhancing scientific writing ability. Student work was compared to written work from prior years using rubric-based evaluation. The objective of this study was to respond to the following research question: How do students exhibit learning when novel teaching strategies are implemented in an advanced laboratory course, and how does student performance compare to prior semesters?