Using Concept Building in Optics to Improve Research Skills
Optics is a core component of an undergraduate physics degree. Not only is optics a fascinating topic on its own, but a good understanding of optics helps students gain valuable insight into more complex topics. A working knowledge of optics is vital for the experimental investigation of astronomy, quantum mechanics, and a host of other research endeavors involving optical measurements. Research is also a critical part of a student’s education. Participation in research brings tremendous benefits to a student. So what do the students gain by participation in research? They learn independence. They learn how to plan a project. They learn the process of discovery. They learn that all answers are not always found on the internet, from professors, in books and publications (in that order). Research makes the “book” learning real. But what skills do the students need to be able to do research? Most of our experimental research opportunities involve optics. We have students working on investigations that range from atomic spectroscopy of rubidium to Rayleigh scattering to optical tweezers to quantum optics. When a student starts research, we want them to be ready to go. We don’t want them to have to relearn material (or for us to reteach material) that they should already have mastered in earlier classes
Mark Masters and Timothy Grove (2013).
Using Concept Building in Optics to Improve Research Skills. SPIE Proceedings.9289. SPIE.