Learning the Concepts Simultaneously, Introductory Mechanics
We can learn physics much the same way we learn our first language – we just start using it while increasing complexity through iteration. Most every sixth grader can distinguish energy, momentum, force, and motion. Parallel Pedagogy begins there; stresses concepts, problem solving and picture drawing; while adding math only as it becomes necessary. Students learning Parallel Pedagogy better apply concepts and think more like experts than students in conventional classes (see publications below). Most students prefer this method and the great majority claim that this method makes them think more about concepts. This approach is briefly described in
- This short video,
- This July 2020 AAPT presentation,
- This July 2021 AAPT presentation,
- Focusing on Concepts by Covering Them Simultaneously, P. Schwartz, The Physics Teacher, 55, 280 (2017); free .pdf
- Pedagogy Changes Can Improve Concept Application, Owen Staveland*, Pete Schwartz, Phys. Teach. 60, 508–512 (2022), Free .pdf
INSTRUCTORS: This curriculum, and all the resources are offered to you free. You just need to go to our Canvas Commons and search “parallel pedagogy”, and you will have the entire course shell set up.
While any kind of teaching environment would work for Parallel Pedagogy, I prefer a flipped classroom. Before class, students watch videos and answer questions through a web platform that records their participation. These videos and online questions are free and publicly available – see table at bottom. The class is also supported by three short, concise textbooks, which are open source, and free for you to use, download, and distribute as you find best supports your classes:
- Calculus Based
- Algebra Based
- Physics in Four Part Harmony, 2021 conceptual curriculum, by Dean Stocker, Cincinnati Blue Ash College, last updated July, 2023. It now includes waves & vibrations, solids, liquids, gases, and thermodynamics; and covers everything that pre-health majors need. Canvas Quizzes, Echo360 polling questions, and a Solutions Manual based upon this work are available to instructors at no cost by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and providing a link to their school’s website that verifies their role as an instructor.
Instructors are free to make use of the questions and solutions posted on the websites from the classes I have directed and am presenting directing (below). Additionally, through these websites, you can see my comprehensive student evaluations and the priorities and narrative developed in my classes.
I like the flipped classroom, because it leaves the class time open for demos, activities and group problem solving. Most of the homework problems are addressed (but usually not completed) during class. However, the parallel pedagogy could be taught in traditional lecture format equally as well.
My Advice for Easy Adoption of Parallel Pedagogy Curriculum: After you copy or take the curriculum from our Canvas shell, set up an account on PlayPosit (I think it’s about $100 a year for you, but free for your students) and copy my set of “video-question bulbs”. This will allow you to immediately start teaching. You can tailor the video questions and switch out other videos as you become comfortable with the format.
Videos are posted on Youtube. Through PlayPosit, the instructor posits questions for the students to answer and saves this watching experience as a “bulb”. Student participation is recorded for the instructor. The public is welcome to copy my set of bulbs as a starting point to being their curriculum. Below, at left are the links for my students who want credit for the class. In the middle are links for the public who do not need to enroll in PlayPosit (although it doesn’t cost anything). Direct links to Youtube videos are at the right. Many of these videos are marginal at best and should be redone. If you make a video that you want to share, please send me the link.
- Pete Schwartz, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, email@example.com
- Dean Stocker, University of Cincinnati Blue Ash College, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Jenn Klay, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, email@example.com
- Jason Tong, Brookline High School, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Johan Tabora, Physics Teacher, UIC Master Teaching Fellow
- Frank Cascarano, Foothill College, Los Altos: “I have had no complaints from the students and several students tell me they like this new approach. But, I can tell you that after teaching for 17 years, I am invigorated by it.”