What Should Physics Majors Know?
Writing Intensive Classes
Students who have taken writing intensive classes should already have learned basic information skills and be able to:
These skills may be regarded by all students as a base for further study. Help is available through the Smith College Libraries’ Ask a Librarian options.
Beginning Physics Majors
At the end of the introductory sequence (PHY115 or 117 and PHY118) physics students should be able to:
After taking intermediate lab (PHY250) physics students should be able to:
Advanced students should be able to:
Specific Journals and Databases
In Which Classes Should Students Learn These Skills?
The Physics Department proposes to incorporate information literacy into the following courses:
In the introductory courses (PHY 115/117/118) students will primarily learn about citing and plagiarism via their lab reports. In intermediate lab students will be assigned library research and will learn how to locate and use articles.
The biggest focus of information literacy training in our curriculum will be in PHY 300, “Current Topics in Physics.” In this course students will be expected to locate and read journal articles, attend physics talks, and do their own writing and presenting. All of the skills described above will be taught and/or reinforced in this class.
These skills will then be further reinforced in our upper level required courses, where students will be asked to read and discuss journal articles in the different areas covered by the courses. In thermal physics students will also write a research paper, thus applying the skills that they have learned.
In addition to the information literacy in these required courses, there will be additional content for students doing honors or taking upper level physics electives.
(Note that in the near future we expect to systematically renumber physics course numbering. These course titles should remain the same.)
In What Ways Will Student Skills be Assessed?
In each of the classes above students will be given assignments that reflect the skills appropriate to that level. The standards used for grading will be progressively higher as the students progress through the curriculum. In intermediate laboratory students will be graded on a specific library research project that will their mastery of the skills listed above for beginning physics majors. In the current topics course students’ grades will be largely based on their ability to locate and present information. Finally, in thermal physics they will have to pull all of these skills together to research and write a full journal-style article.
Our primary ethical concern in students’ use of information is the avoidance of plagiarism. Students will learn in introductory physics lab how to properly cite sources, and even more importantly when information needs to be cited. The need for giving proper credit to one’s sources will be emphasized and enforced throughout the curriculum.
August 16 , 2007