Bozeman, MT
Jul 27-Jul 31, 2015
Credit: 2 graduate
Tuition & Fees: $627.00
Instructor(s): Gregory Francis

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Course Description

Many science teachers feel more comfortable teaching mechanics than the more abstract concepts of electricity and magnetism. This is unfortunate, as the application of these principles can be so much more exciting that the block-down-the-inclined-plane types of problems treated in mechanics. Students can be taught how to wire their own home or build electric motors.

This five-day course uses essentially the same mode as in "Teaching Mechanics Using Research-Based Curriculum", except that the topics covered will come from the second semester of the typical introductory physics sequence. Participants will learn how to teach an integrated course built around Tutorials in Introductory Physics (McDermott, et al.). This research-based curriculum challenges students to confront their misconceptions and build gut-level models of the key concepts of electricity and magnetism. The course will showcase both the student-centered tutorial instruction and the supporting active-engagement PowerPoint lectures. We will also review the physics education research literature that provides the foundation for these curricular materials.

Participants will receive 70 PowerPoint lectures, each with its own description and learning outcomes, designed to engage the students in active learning and provide the necessary links to the Tutorial experience. A complete description of supporting demonstrations will also be provided. Finally, participants will receive a large bank of research-based homework and exam questions designed specifically to elicit the common misconceptions addressed in the Tutorials.

Time Commitment: 8-10 hrs/day

Meeting Place and Times

Class: MTWRF 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Location: AJM Johnson Hall, Room 121


Gregory Francis, PhD. Dr. Francis is the director of the Conceptual Astronomy and Physics Education Research (CAPER) Team in the Department of Physics at Montana State University, where he teaches algebra-based physics in classes of up to 210 students per section. Over the last several years, he has developed a relatively low-budget, high-impact program of physics instruction that is producing gains on the Force Concept Inventory (a widely used test of conceptual understanding in basic mechanics) that are as good or better than lab-based programs that, by their design, require resources that are simply not available to many physics instructors. In addition, a study demonstrating a high long-term retention rate (“Do They Stay Fixed?” The Physics Teacher, 36(8), p. 488 (1998).) suggests that the program is doing much more than training them to give the right answers—it is changing their world view.


Graduate standing.

Target Audience

Restricted Entry for Science Educators

Tuition and Fees

 Program Fee $87.00
 Computer Fee$7.00
 Distributed Learning Fee$0.00

A $30 registration fee is also charged once per semester.

The costs above assume that you are taking only MSU Extended University courses during the semester that the course is offered. If you also registered for courses through the MSU Registrar, the regular MSU fee structure may apply.

A $40 late fee will be assessed if payment is not posted to your account by 3 pm (Mountain Time) of the course start date (or the business day before if the course starts on a weekend or a holiday).

To learn more about tuition and fees, please see the University Business Services' Student Accounts Web page.

Optional Books/Materials:

  • Tutorials in Physics and Homework, by McDermott & Shaffer. Prentice Hall, 2002. ISBN # 9780130970695.

You can order the text through the Montana State University Bookstore at 1-888-247-2546. Ask to speak with the Textbook Department. It will expedite your order if you tell the sales representative:

  • course number (PHYS 591)
  • title of the text
  • ISBN number
  • the course is offered through Extended University

For More Information

contact Diana Paterson at or 406-994-5679.

How to Register

Register Online