UC Davis Physics Education Research Group

In 1995 Wendell Potter and his colleagues drew from constructivist theory to create physics 7. Physics 7 is a large non-major introductory physics course where the techniques model-based reasoning and interactive-engagement are integrated to allow students to make-sense of physical phenomena. The general philosophy behind physics 7 is to provide students with in class time to collaborate with their peers and their instructors to build their understanding of physics. Lecture is limited to 80 minutes a week (20 of which are usually used for weekly quizzes), and instead the students spend 280 minutes a week in two separate Discussion/Labs (a hybrid of a lab and a discussion section) working through activities in small groups on a group black board.

Since the creation of the course, the group has grown to have many research interests. In addition to those listed above, we are also particularly interested in student beliefs about science, student assessment and grading, instructor-student interactions in the classroom, and gender equity in physics.