Title

Active Learning in Intermediate Optics Through Concept Building Laboratories

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

5-2010

Publication Source

American Journal of Physics

Volume

78

Issue

5

Inclusive pages

485 - 491

Publisher

American Association of Physics Teachers

ISBN/ISSN

00029505

Peer Reviewed

yes

Abstract

We have modified our intermediate optics laboratory to improve student understanding through the use of active learning. Our approach relies upon direct confrontation of misconceptions through the use of predictions, collection of data to support or refute the predictions, reconciliation of the predictions and observations, discussions, and leading questions. This method differs from the typical approach in which students are provided a series of detailed instructions and then they reflect upon their data. Through the class and laboratory we build conceptual understanding in subjects such as image formation by lenses and mirrors, ray optics, and ultimately elliptical polarization while fostering laboratory independence and helping students erect a new paradigm for learning. We present data indicating improved student understanding of optics through the course of the semester.

Keywords

physics, optics, labs

Disciplines

Optics | Physics | Science and Mathematics Education

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