From Lecture to Studio: The Story of MSU's Department of Physics and Astronomy

Thursday 10:00am - 10:30am Waterfront
Oral Presentation

Marcos D. Caballero, Michigan State University
Paul W. Irving, Michigan State University
Daryl McPadden, Michigan State University
Vashti Sawtelle, Michigan State University
Cori Fata-Hartley, Michigan State University
Michigan State University's Department of Physics and Astronomy is engaged in a major transformation of its introductory courses for both physical science and engineering majors as well as life science majors. Over the next 3 years, we will transition all of our introductory course offerings to make full use of research-based instructional strategies (RBIS) while working to incorporate greater cross-disciplinary learning opportunities into our instruction (e.g., science practices and biologically-inspired content). Students whose major requires both lecture and laboratory work will receive instruction in a new studio physics environment that integrates theory, experiment, and computation. Students whose major requirements only involve lecture will receive instruction in a new problem-based learning environment that integrates theory and computation. This transition represents the culmination of more than five years of work to develop learning environments that make use of RBIS and cross-disciplinary ideas while also developing faculty buy-in and expertise, constructing sustainable instructional models, and gaining broader institutional buy-in to support this change. This move impacts nearly two dozen faculty, roughly 40 graduate teaching assistants, and more than 80 undergraduate learning assistants who will facilitate student learning in these environments in addition to the more than 8000 students who will be taking these introductory physics courses each year. We will present the story of how this transformation came about including how we developed faculty buy-in for change and how broader institutional initiatives facilitated further growth. We will discuss how the Department of Physics and Astronomy is now positioned to continue to innovate and serve as a model for the rest of the institution as we move into a new STEM teaching and learning building intended to continue to foster greater cross-disciplinary instructional collaborations.