The Active Physics projects, a collaboration of CIRCLE and the Department of Physics, is an investigation into the differences between two calculus-based introductory physics courses at Washington University: a traditional lecture-based sequence and a more student-centered, active-learning based sequence. The primary goals of the  “active physics” sequence, which has been offered since 2004, are to strengthen students’ conceptual reasoning, estimation, and approximation skills as well as to develop quantitative problem-solving skills.

CIRCLE researchers are currently involved in series of long-term studies investigating the general question: Do active-learning pedagogies in introductory Physics improve a number of student outcomes–including students’ attitudes, learning gains, and problem solving skills?”

At present, we are involved in three studies:

  • Conceptual Gains study: When compared with traditional approaches, do active-learning pedagogies improve student attitudes and performance in learning knowledge and skills in introductory physics?
  • Student Attitudes study: Do student attitudes in traditional physics and active physics predict learning?
  • Problem Solving study: Do active-learning pedagogies in physics improve quantitative problem-solving skills compared to traditional approaches to teaching physics?