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									 Six Ideas That Shaped
       An Overview
         Thomas A. Moore
Introductory Calculus-Based Physics
         November 1, 2003
What is Six Ideas That Shaped
   A textbook, instructor’s manual, and website
   A new approach to teaching introductory
   physics based on four fundamental principles:
   1. New approaches can provide increased
   2. Active learning solidifies understanding
   3. Explicit instruction and practice with model-
      building provides flexibility
   4. Contemporary physics provides excitement
My goals in this presentation
  To describe the structure and goals of a
  Six Ideas course

  To discuss how the Six Ideas materials
  express the four principles mentioned

  To present evidence that the approach
The Introductory University
Physics Project (IUPP)
 NSF-funded project (1987-1995) whose
 purpose was to develop and test
 alternatives to the standard course
 Summative report: Am. J. Phys. 66, pp. 124-
 137 (February, 1998)
 Principles articulated by the IUPP
  1. Less is more
  2. Include 20th century physics
  3. Use a storyline
The structure of Six Ideas
  The text is divided into six volumes, each
  focused on a single formative idea
  1. Unit C: Interactions are Constrained by
     Conservation Laws
  2. Unit N: The Laws of Physics are Universal
  3. Unit R: The Laws of Physics are Frame-
  4. Unit E: Electric and Magnetic Fields are Unified
  5. Unit Q: Matter Behaves Like Waves
  6. Unit T: Some Processes are Irreversible
How this structure addresses
the IUPP goals
  Each idea provides a “story line” for the

  They also motivate necessary cuts
     Some large-scale cuts (geometric optics,
     Mostly, the pace is cut by streamlining
     The “chapter per day” format defines the pace

  Contemporary physics
     Units on relativity and quantum physics
     Contemporary perspective throughout
How new approaches can
improve learning: an example

  Common student problems
    Identifying forces linked by Newton’s 3rd law
    Identifying fictitious forces

  These problems are related
    Students see forces as isolated entities that
    are not linked to any deeper conceptual
    Standard presentations reinforce this
How new approaches can
improve learning: an example
  In Six Ideas, the interaction between two
  objects (not force) is the fundamental

  How this addresses the problem
     The forces that are linked by Newton’s 3rd law
     are always the two ends of a specific
     Fictitious forces do not reflect an interaction
How new approaches can
improve learning: an example
  Other payoffs for this approach:
     Helps make the concept of potential energy
     Helps students better understand the
     similarities between force, power, and torque
     Momentum-flow images help students
     qualitatively predict motion without calculus
Support for Active Learning
  The most robust result of physics
  educational research: Students learn by

  We all know this, but our courses are not
  usually structured as if this were true

  Six Ideas supports active learning in four
  1.   Support for reducing the need for lectures
  2.   Support for activities during class
  3.   Support for active learning outside of class
  4.   Support for intelligent course design
Support for Reducing
  Text is written more like a conversation,
  less like an encyclopedia

  Helps for active reading
     Wide margins for student notes
     In-chapter exercises help challenge students
     to think about what they are reading (and
     answers in the back provide instant feedback)
     Overview/summary at the beginning of each
     chapter displays the big picture
Support for class activities
   “Two-minute” problems
  N2T.9 A car moving at a constant speed travels past a
  valley in the road, as shown below. Which of the arrows
  shown most closely approximates the direction of the
  car’s acceleration at the instant that it is at the position
  shown? (Hint: draw a motion diagram.)

   Active demonstrations
Active learning outside of
     “Rich-Context” problems support collabo-
     rative work in active recitation sections
C7R.2 You are prospecting for rare metals on a spherical asteroid
composed mostly of iron (density ≈ 7800 kg/m3) and whose radius
is 4.5 km. You’ve left your spaceship in a circular parking orbit 400
m above the asteroid's surface and gone down to the surface.
However, one of your exploratory explosions knocks you against
a rock, ruining your jet pack. (This is why you have a backup jet
pack, which is, unfortunately, “back up” in the spaceship.) Is it
possible for you to simply jump high enough to get back to the

     Generally, problems cannot be solved by
     “plugging and chugging”
Support for good course
  To be successful, course design must
     Motivate students to read text before class
     Help them focus on ideas instead of formulas
     Encourage them to learn from difficult
     problems (instead of freaking out)

  Details are important!

  The instructor’s manual (available online)
  offers ideas about how to do this well
Instruction in Model-Building
Why is this important?

   Real applications always involve
   discerning a simple model in a complex

   Building a model involves self-consciously
   making approximations and assumptions

   Learning to do this well is an art that
   students learn by both instruction and
Instruction in Model-Building
  The text extensively discusses how to build
  models and make appropriate approximations
  It teaches and uses a four-part problem-
  solving outline: Translate, Model, Solve,
  It explicitly teaches the value of tools such as
  unit analysis, symbolic algebra, the method of
  extremes, estimation
  It extensively uses diagrams as thinking tools
  Computer models help students explore
  consequences of physical models
Contemporary Physics
 Why teach relativity and quantum physics?
   Well, this is the 21st century…
   32/33 will never take another physics course
   One of the clearest signals from IUPP evaluation
   was the interest in these topics

 Six Ideas uses contemporary ideas
   It addresses how topics fit into current physics
   It explores contemporary applications
   Its problems have a very practical orientation
Does Six Ideas work?
 The FCI Exam (Physics Teacher, 30, 3, 1992)
 (a difficult but purely conceptual multiple-choice exam
 on Newtonian physics)

 R. Hake, Am. J. Phys. 66(1) (January 1998)
    The normalized gain g = (post - pre)/(100% - pre)]
    is a robust measure of course performance
    Traditional courses: g = 0.23 ± 0.04
    “Interactive engagment” (IE) courses: g = 0.48 ±
    Not correlated with instructor, initial student state
Does Six Ideas Work?
 Results from Pomona College
   1993: 0.46
   1996: 0.48
   1997: 0.45
   1998: 0.55 (estimated)
   2000: 0.63
   2001: 0.58
Does Six Ideas Work?
 Vic DeCarlo at DePauw University
 2000: 0.54
 2001: 0.55
 Ulrich Heinz at Ohio State (Columbus)
 2001: 0.72 (!)
 Note that Six Ideas spends less time on
 mechanics than most IE courses
 Good gains seem to happen even if the
 classes are not especially interactive
 Six Ideas provides (without requiring costly staffing,
 scheduling, or infrastructure changes)
    A contemporary and effective approach to
    Support for active learning
    Explicit instruction in model-building skills
 It has been classroom-tested for > 10 years

 It provides extensive support for instructors

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