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WEC Unit: Physics


Approximately 100 students are currently enrolled in the School of Physics and Astronomy's undergraduate Physics major. Physics graduates go on to careers as high school teachers, industrial physicists, medical physicists, engineers, lawyers, and finance managers. After graduate study in physics, others will become professors, junior college teachers, and researchers at national labs or industrial research centers. Annually, the department’s 43 faculty members also teach over 4,000 student enrolled from 23 different majors who enroll in writing-intensive introductory Physics courses.

In its first implementation phase, this department developed teaching resources for several large-enrollment introductory lab courses. Developing and piloting a Revised Grading Rubric, a Review of Graphs, and an Interactive Guide to Writing Lab Reports the department is endeavoring to ensure that these multi-section courses, which primarily enroll non-majors, approach writing instruction and grading in a relatively uniform manner.

As the department implements the third edition of its Writing Plan, it is focused on developing teaching resources for selected upper-level courses. The first of these courses under consideration is PHYS 2605 Quantum Physics Laboratory, which is an intermediate lab course for physics majors. In this lab, students develop writing skills important to their field of study, including keeping a well-organized and detailed record of their work in a lab logbook and writing formal scientific papers. Resources are currently being developed to offer students examples of excellent/poor practices in keeping lab logbooks and writing formal papers. Furthermore, peer review is being explored for courses such as PHYS 2605 and another advanced physics laboratory (PHYS 4052W Methods of Experimental Physics II) as a way of improving student engagement and understanding of what practices make the communication of scientific work successful.

Writing Plan

Center for Writing  10 Nicholson Hall&nb=sp;   216 Pillsbury Dr. SE    Minneapolis, MN 55455    Phone: 612-625-0791   Fax: 612-626-7580