Over several years, we engaged in a systematic overhaul of Physics 3330, Electronics for the Physical Sciences (aka J-lab), which is an upper-division required course for all physics and engineering physics majors. The ideas used to guide the changes arose from structured discussions with a large number of faculty members (22) in the context of creating learning goals for the Advanced Lab (PHYS4430), the subsequent transformation work conducted in the Advanced Lab course, our own personal experience teaching the J-lab many times, and our experience with electronics in a research-lab setting. The goals that guided the J-lab transformation included:
- making the experience more authentic and aligned with current practices of experimentalists working with electronics (addressing calls from researchers and national studies in higher education)
- reducing the coursework overload on students and having it more adequately reflect a 2-credit laboratory workload
- including more design and application activities in the guided-lab portion of the course
- better preparing the students for their projects and making them more accountable during this portion of the course.
The outcome objectives for students included:
- developing student expertise with key measurement and design equipment (‘scopes, boards, DMMs, Mathematica, etc.) along with data collection and measurement techniques
- characterizing, modeling, and understanding applications of key core components (discrete RLC components, voltage dividers, operational amplifiers, transistors, etc.)
- developing capacity for theoretical modeling of foundational circuits and comparing theory to experimental measurement
- increasing student satisfaction and engagement.
Instructors who would like to get access to the related course materials for this course should email email@example.com.