What's a Lab For? A Decade of Continuous Laboratory Revision

Document Type


Document Subtype


Presentation Date

Summer 7-22-2010

Conference Name

American Association of Physics Teachers Summer meeting (2010)

Conference Location

Portland, OR


In undergraduate physics education, the theoretical physics curriculum is relatively standardized and coherent. In the laboratory it is much less so. What is the purpose of a physics laboratory? What are the goals for student learning through the laboratory? How do we teach experimental physics? I will describe a decade of continuous revision of the IPFW physics laboratories, from the introductory to the Advanced Laboratory in an effort to produce an overall laboratory curriculum. The basic tenets of this curriculum have been to develop the students' experimental skills, their independence, and to help them understand and apply physics to their investigations. The methods adopted to achieve these goals in a variety of venues will be discussed and the success (or failure) of these approaches will be presented with special focus on the Advanced Laboratory.


Physics, Laboratory, Education



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