Additional Participants

Graduate Student

Kate McCann

Katrina Black

Eleanor Sayre

Joel Van Deventer

Organizational Partners

University of New Hampshire

Drury University

West Chester University of Pennsylvania

University of Michigan Dearborn

Pacific University

Seattle Pacific University

Bowling Green State University

University of Washington

Tarleton State University

Western Michigan University

Grandville High School

Seoul National University

Project Period

June 2006-May 2007

Level of Access

Open-Access Report

Grant Number


Submission Date



There is a need among science students for increased conceptual and mathematical understanding in courses beyond the introductory level. Future scientists, future secondary science teachers, and future engineers who take these courses must create an effective bridge between the mathematical reasoning emphasized in most physics classes and the physical intuition that will guide their future work. Using past success as a template, the collaborating PI's are developing Intermediate Mechanics Tutorials, a set of at least 23 tutorials, including pencil-and-paper conceptual tutorials (15), mathematical tutorials (4), and computer-based tutorials (4), for the purpose of enhancing instruction in intermediate mechanics. Each tutorial is accompanied by a pretest (ungraded quiz), homework problems, and post-tests (exam questions). Tutorials are designed to allow flexible implementation in lecture, studio, laboratory, or seminar courses.

Intellectual Merit: Tutorial materials act as supplements to (rather than replacements of) regular lecture instruction. Materials address specific difficulties students have when learning the physics. Having the materials in place allows for greater understanding of what student difficulties in intermediate mechanics are, as well as providing data about the difficulties. Physics education research (PER) data not only can enhance future versions of these materials but also can help instructors using other similar materials in their classes.

Broader impact: A coherent set of materials is being created for teaching intermediate mechanics more effectively. These materials can reach future scientists, teachers, and future university faculty. The research-based development work can inform other ongoing PER investigations. Dissemination to interested physics faculty members can help them learn about and utilize innovative teaching methods.