Lessons Learned: The Paradigms in Physics Project at Oregon State University

Paradigms 2.0: Rebooting an Established Upper Division Physics Reform Curriculum

This study of the reboot process is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1323800 Supplement; PI: Corinne Manogue; lead author of this document: Emily van Zee

Two decades ago, “the Paradigms in Physics Project at Oregon State University reformed the entire upper-division curriculum for physics majors. This involved both a rearrangement of content to better reflect the way professional physicists think about the field and also the use of a number of research- and evidence-based interactive pedagogies that are known to engage students more effectively with a discipline. Work on Paradigms has continued as an incremental, organic improvement process even as a series of NSF grants have allowed the team to explore and improve student understanding in several different physics sub-disciplines. The resulting curriculum has become a local and national model and each phase of the project has included a significant component of national dissemination. Recently, in the OSU physics department, extensive turnover in faculty and leadership, the need for updated content to adjust to new faculty research preferences, and advances in understanding of student engagement have indicated the need for more than incremental revision and renewal. Simultaneously, wide-spread calls for a thorough scientific description of the Paradigms Model and the process for creating and sustaining it has shown the desirability of doing a formal study of the renewal process”

This empirical study of the reboot process has described aspects of change processes that could be used in other departments and universities. This document provides a summary of lessons learned while initiating (1996-2005), sustaining (2006-2015), and re-envisioning (Spring 2016) the Paradigms in Physics Program as well as implementing the new plan (Summer 2016-Spring 2017).

Part 1: 1996-2005: Initiating the Paradigms in Physics Program

Part 2: 2006-2015: Sustaining the Paradigms in Physics Program

Part 3: Spring 2016: Re-envisioning the Paradigms in Physics Program

Part 4: 2016-2017: Implementing the New Plan

Part 5: 2016 and beyond: Changing Instruction

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