The student learning outcome targeted:
Effectively use manual and computerized data collection techniques to gather and analyze information
The assessment and how it relates to the SLO:
essential elements of any experiment are accuracy and precision in the measurement process. In
the Physics 201 lab we make use of several measurement tools, the primary one being the meter stick.
Measuring distance accurately and precisely means the resu
lts will be within 2%
5% of the expected
theoretical model. Poor measurement technique often yields differences of up to 40%
expected values. Students coming into Physics 201 may not have rigorous background in measurement
and it is my responsib
ility to give them a good grounding in good measurement technique.
In week04 of Fall 2012, I noticed that lab reports for half of the class were reporting 30%
discrepancies from theoretical expectations and another quarter of t
he reports were reporting 10%
discrepancy. Only about 25% of the class was making good measurements. I decided to investigate.
Students were asked why they were OK with that much discrepancy from predicted values. Typical
blame was on human error a
nd simple/faulty equipment. I felt they were being sloppy, did not
appreciate precision and accuracy yet, or thought of it only as proof of concept.
During the week05 lab I gave a lab quiz to pairs of students determining the distance between two
in space above the table relative to a vertical plumb bob. I made the measurements myself a
dozen times and determined an acceptable error of 5%.
Results: 30% of students (22/73) were within the acceptable 5% error.
For the week06
lab I asked students to estimate their own contribution to human error in the
it involved 5 separate measurements per data point. This had the effect of forcing them
to confront their sloppiness and there was a significant improvement in the
accuracy and precision for
that lab (no data).
For week07 lab I had them go through 13 separate measurements to acquire each data point and
explained that they would be graded on whether they were within 5% of expected values.
Results great. 92% (6
7/73) were within 5%.
Fall 2012 was the first group to take Physics 201 after taking our new PHYS139 Physics Prep course. 139
has no lab component although they do some mini
labs to show proof of concept. I suspect that this
was what I wa
s observing. The changes I instituted for labs 6 and 7 showed that the situation is
remediable and I am planning to take it a bit further and start off the quarter with a stronger focus on
measurement technique next fall when I teach the class again.
Student Learning Outcomes:
After completing this course students
be able to:
1. Recognize, explain, and apply the laws of classical mechanics to analyze physical phenomena using
problem solving techniques, mathematical modeling, and labo
2. Apply critical thinking strategies to correlate observed physical phenomena with theoretical models.
, and use
apparatus to measure physical phenomena.
4. Effectively communicate, verbally and in writing, th
e ideas and processes of phy
Specifically, the Student Learning Outcomes above will be measured by your ability to:
1. Apply the SI (Systeme International) units and metric prefixes to the solution of problems in
2. Use vectors to repres
ent vector quantities in mechanics and use vector operations to solve
3. Relate the kinematics concepts and graphs of displacement, velocity, and acceleration versus time
using integration and differentiation.
4. Solve 1, 2, and 3 dim
ensional kinematics problems including free fall, projectile, and circular motion.
5. Explain the concepts of force, inertia, and mass and apply Newton's laws to solve problems in linear
and circular motion.
6. Describe the concepts of
work, kinetic energy, potential energy, and power
and use them
to solve translational and rotational mechanics problems for both conservative and non
7. Define linear momentum and impulse and use these principles to solve
problems involving 1 and 2
dimensional, elastic, inelastic, and perfectly inelastic collisions.
8. Define the concepts of moment of inertia, torque, and angular momentum and use them to solve
problems involving rotating and rolling objects and systems.
. Calculate moments of inertia for systems of particles and solids using the parallel axis theorem and
10. Describe the conditions necessary for static equilibrium and solve problems involving static
equilibrium of rigid bodies in two dimens
1. Develop and conduct experiments that apply the scientific method and error analysis to explore
principles in mechanics.
se manual and computerized data collection techniques to
3. Plot, curve fit, and interpret
data using a spreadsheet or