College of Science

Program Assessment

Program Learning Objectives

  1. Students will learn fundamental principles governing the physical universe, and develop an understanding of the scientific method and its application to the advancement of knowledge.
  2. Students will develop effective problem-solving skills, including the use of modeling, estimation, alternative representations, and proportional reasoning.
  3. Students will learn applications of conceptual and mathematical understanding of physics principles to real-world problems. Examples: global warming, use of fossil fuels, public transportation, etc.
  4. Students will develop effective skills in written, oral, and computer communication in a scientific setting, as well as an awareness of science ethics.
  5. Students will gain hands-on experience in a variety of laboratory techniques, incorporating the campus “Learn by Doing” philosophy.
  6. Students who are physics majors or minors will gain an appreciation for physics as a discipline, and will develop a more in-depth understanding of some area of physics.
  7. Students who are physics majors, upon graduation, will be prepared for graduate work, or for careers in teaching, industry, or public agencies; they will be able to apply their physics experience and knowledge to analyze new situations.

Student Learning Outcomes

  • LO 1a: Students will be able to identify the appropriate physical quantities to solve for when given information on a physical system and asked to predict its behavior.
  • LO 1b: Students will be able to identify the appropriate equations to apply for modeling a system, and will be able to state the reasons why those equations are necessary and others are not.
  • LO 1c: Students will be able to use symmetry to simplify equations and models.
  • LO 1d: Students will be able to use physics models to obtain quantitative predictions for real-world technologies and problems. Examples may include energy issues, medical devices, and information technology.
  • LO 1e: In developing these models, students will be able to draw upon key foundational theories of physics, including Newtonian mechanics, the theory of relativity, electromagnetism, quantum mechanics, thermodynamics, and statistical mechanics.
  • LO 2a: Students will be able to use estimation techniques and dimensional analysis to obtain quantitative predictions from simple models of a physical system, with the goal of getting estimates that are accurate to within an order of magnitude
  • LO 2b: Students will be able to apply standard analytical techniques for the solution of ordinary and partial differential equations to solve common physics equations in situations that are relevant to the real world.
  • LO 2c: Students will be able to use proportional reasoning and dimensional analysis to check analytical solutions, and to predict the qualitative behavior of physical systems.
  • LO 3a: Students will be able to set up and troubleshoot components of experimental and/or computational tools in order to perform a measurement or simulation of a physically relevant quantity or phenomenon.
  • LO 3b: Students will be able to quantitatively describe the limitations of their experimental apparatus or algorithm, and use information on those limitations to determine uncertainties in measured quantities or precision of computed quantities.
  • LO 3c: Students will be able to analyze experimental or simulation data and compare the results of the data analysis with predictions from physical theories.
  • LO 4a: Students will be able to write professional-quality reports that describe the methods, results, and interpretation of experimental or computational investigations of physics problems.
  • LO 4b: Students will be able to give verbal presentations on physical principles, applications of physical principles, and the results of physics investigations, at a level understandable by an audience of novices.  These presentations may include visual aids.
  • LO 5: Physics majors, upon graduation, will be prepared for careers in teaching, research, industry, or public service, as well as advanced study in physics and related fields.

Course Learning Outcomes

PHY 120-series (PHY 121/L, 122/L, 123/L) College Physics – introductory service course sequence for students not majoring in physical sciences or engineering

  1. Basic understanding of the physical principles and concepts governing motion, force, work, energy, momentum, fluid mechanics, heat, oscillatory motion, wave motion, sound, light, optical devices, electricity, magnetism, simple circuits, atomic physics, and nuclear physics.
  2. Development of skills necessary to solve problems at the algebra/trig level, including use and understanding of vectors, representation of information using appropriate alternative representations, and ability to simplify problems by identifying appropriate models.
  3. Ability to (safely) employ experimental apparatus, and make simple, accurate physical measurements (with appropriate units), and understand the limitations of various measuring devices.
  4. Ability to communicate an understanding of fundamental physics principles and problem solving strategies, as well as an analysis of experimental data and the inherent uncertainties involved.

PHY 130-series (PHY 131/L,132/L,133/L) General Physics – introductory service course sequence for students majoring in the physical sciences or engineering

  1. Basic understanding of the physical principles and concepts governing mechanics (kinematics and dynamics) of solids and fluids, including oscillations and waves, thermodynamics, electricity and magnetism.
  2. Development of skills necessary to solve problems at the level of introductory calculus, including use of vectors (scalar and vector products), representation of information using appropriate alternative representations, and ability to simplify problems by identifying appropriate models.
  3. Ability to (safely) employ experimental apparatus, and make accurate physical measurements (with appropriate units), and understand the limitations of various measuring devices, with particular emphasis on how measurement uncertainties propagate to yield uncertainties in derived results.
  4. Ability to communicate an understanding of fundamental physics principles and problem solving strategies, as well as an analysis of experimental data and the inherent uncertainties involved.