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A model for incorporating computation without changing the course: An example from middle-division classical mechanics

Marcos D. Caballero
Organization: Michigan State University
Department: Department of Physics and Astronomy
Steven J. Pollock
Organization: University of Colorado Boulder
Department: Department of Physics
Journal / Anthology

American Journal of Physics
Year: 2014
Volume: 82
Issue: 3
Page range: 231-237

Although much of the research done by modern physicists would be impossible without the use of computers, today’s physics curricula do not generally reflect their importance and utility. To more tightly connect undergraduate preparation with professional practice, we integrated computational instruction into middle-division classical mechanics at the University of Colorado Boulder. Our model for integration works with the constraints of faculty who do not specialize in computation by placing a strong emphasis on an adaptable curriculum. It also includes the construction of learning goals and the design of activities consistent with those goals, including assessment of student computational fluency. We present critiques of our model as we work to develop an effective and sustainable model for computational instruction in the undergraduate curriculum.

*Science > Physics
*Science > Physics > Mechanics