Mechanics ReView, a new Massive Open Online Course offered by MIT on the edX platform this summer, will offer eight Continuing Education Units through a collaboration with the American Association of Physics Teachers. The credits will be available at a cost of approximately $250. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have been hailed for their ability to flexibly provide education to thousands of learners at a time but in most cases have not provided formal recognition for participation.
Mechanics ReView was developed out of a three-week January review of classical mechanics offered to MIT students who struggled in MIT’s first semester physics course, 8.01 Classical Mechanics. The course is designed for learners with a previous exposure to classical Newtonian mechanics, and uses rigorously designed assessments and a unique pedagogical approach to help learners develop confidence in their ability to solve physics problems using a structured approach.
The course, starting June 1, has proven in prior iterations to be popular with high school physics teachers, who comprised 45% of the learners in a previous online offering by the MIT research group that developed course. Mechanics ReView was developed by the RELATE (Research in Learning, Assessing and Tutoring Effectively) research group at MIT, under the direction of Professor David Pritchard in the Department of Physics and Research Laboratory of Electronics, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Physics teachers in the prior iterations praised the course highly. “This course was the challenge I needed,” commented one participant. “I teach AP Physics and I have decided to adjust some of my methodology. Instead of doing so much lecture to students who have already had a year of physics, I will be providing some basic notes and having students doing much more group problem solving. This class has shown me that problem solving is a very effective way to learning the ins and outs of physics.”
The course uses a carefully structured pedagogy called Modeling Applied to Problem Solving (MAPS). MAPS is a strategic, systematic approach to problem-solving based on categorization of student knowledge into models. The basic knowledge of Mechanics is represented as five core models, each of which specifies the types of system to which it applies, the interactions that change the variable of interest (velocity, momentum, mechanical energy, angular velocity, or angular momentum) and the equation governing that change. Students are then taught a systematic approach to problem solving called SIM, for System, Interaction, and Model. SIM tells students to plan a solution based on explicitly picking a System, identifying the important Interactions, and selecting an appropriate core Model.