2020 Rieger

Project Title Enhancement and Customization of an Open Physics Textbook for International Students
Principal Investigator Georg Rieger
  • Stefan Reinsberg, Associate Professor, Physics & Astronomy, Faculty of Science
  • Jodie Martin, Lecturer, AEP Science, Vantage College
  • Alfredo Ferreira, Lecturer, AEP Science, Vantage College
  • Neil Leveridge, Lecturer, AEP Science, Vantage College
  • Brian Wilson, Curriculum Manager, Vantage College
Faculty Vantage/Science
Funding Year 2019/20
Project Summary The project will create a customized version of an open physics textbook (University Physics by OpenStax) that is enhanced for international learners. The custom features include, chiefly, weekly reading modules with embedded quiz questions and feedback, weekly homework practice and the integration of ‘language of physics’ segments within each module to support discipline-specific English language development. To our knowledge, a textbook that takes an interdisciplinary and integrated approach to language acquisition and physics does not currently exist. We will initially focus on implementation in two Vantage One sections of PHYS 117 and later make it available for all (international) students through the UBC library and BC campus. Building on the experience of the PI and co-applicant Stefan Reinsberg, an electronic version of the textbook will be imported into an edX website, customized into weekly reading assignments and enhanced by quiz questions and possibly videos. We will also code end-of-chapter problem questions into edX, which will make the currently used commercial online homework obsolete. All course materials will therefore be free to students. Once finished, the weekly edX modules (including the enhancements described below) will be transformed into a PressBooks format so that it can be widely shared.

The Academic English team (co-applicants Jodie Martin, Alfredo Ferreira, Neil Leveridge) will develop parallel, integrated instructional materials for enhancing student awareness of the language of physics, including:
  • tasks highlighting, in practical and integrated ways, patterns of language choices in physics descriptions, problems and solutions, and how these choices generate valued knowledge in the field. Examples from the openstax textbook will be discussed and embedded as language-focused segments in the weekly physics modules.
  • enhance the textbook with a physics language-specific glossary of definitions and common patterns of wording, such as collocations (for example, in physics, “forces”are “exerted”on objects, these two words frequently co-occuring)
  • Proofread and revise the language used in the textbook for clarity in consultation with physics instructors
As an overall design principle, resources will be created so they are self-contained and self- explanatory. For instance, including examples and the necessary background knowledge such as definitions of technical terms should enable students to study on their own. This will also make the resource “course agnostic”and facilitate the distribution of the enhanced text book. We plan to embed numerous (self-) test questions for formative learning. Together with the PI, curriculum manager Brian Wilson will make sure that the resource supports the Physics and Academic English learning goals and appears coherent and well-organized.

In the context of Vantage College there are additional benefits:
  • The importance of the Academic English Program (AEP) is emphasized by using a resource that is shared between two courses, the introductory physics course (PHYS 117) and the course focusing on Academic English (VANT 140).
  • Keeping track of due dates for assignments is simplified for students.
  • Communication between instructors is facilitated: it is clear which topic is covered in each of the courses in a given week and which materials are used.
Grant type OER Implementation
Funded Amount $23,258