Physics 470

PHYS 470
Physics Reading and Research

Catalog Entry

PHYS 470. Physics Reading and Research
Credit Hours (1).

Prerequisites: Three hours of PHYS or ASTR at the 300 level or above.

Presentation and discussion of developments in physics and closely-related areas in current literature.


Detailed Description of Content of Course

List topics or major units; include subtopics under major units, if appropriate.  NOTE: This section will be reviewed by many people who are not familiar with the subject matter. It is important to avoid jargon. It is also important that care be given to the organization of the content and that it be made much more detailed and complete than the catalog description. If this is a 400-level course that will be specified as being available for graduate credit, indicate the additional work that will be required of students taking the course for graduate credit.

This class will require students to develop oral and written skills by reading and presenting talks based on current literature in physics and closely-related areas. Students will choose a topic of interest, develop an oral presentation of this material to be given to the rest of the class, and then write and revise a technical review article of the material. This class is intended for Physical Science—Physics and Physical Science—Earth & Space Science majors at the sophomore level and above.


Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

Include the appropriate instructional strategies, i.e., lab or field experience, student presentations, student development of materials, role-playing/simulation, cooperative/group learning, demonstrations, computer-assisted instruction, case studies, self-paced instruction, writing-to-learn activities, oral communication activities, use of audio-visual materials, guest speakers, lecture, etc.

Students will choose their topics of interest in conjunction with the faculty instructor. This class is designed to develop students’ abilities to read and understand a topic in the current physics (or related area) literature. To that end, students will read and come to an acceptable level of understanding of the material, and then present that material to the other members of the class and the instructor. The presenters will then write a technical article on the material presented that includes both a summary of the material as well as a review of the relevance of that material to the current state of the field. The instructor will give students feedback on their understanding of the material based on their presentations as well as their technical review article. The instructor will also give students feedback on their communications skills based on their presentations. All of the other students in the class will be required to read each article presented so that they can participate in discussions on that day’s topic.


Student Goals and Objectives of the Course

Need to be stated in terms of student outcomes. What are the major learning objectives: What new capabilities, skills, levels of awareness, etc. will students derive from the course? Example: "Having successfully completed this course, the student will be able to . . ." For a General Education Course, in addition to a statement of course-specific goals and objectives, include a description of the broad general education program goals and the goals established for the particular knowledge area of the program as these goals will be addressed in this course.

  • To develop student’s abilities to understand current literature in physics or closely-related areas. Students will be able to identify the main points of the current research in their readings, read that research critically for relevance to the current state of the field, and summarize the main points of that research to an audience of their peers.
  • Students will develop oral presentation skills. They will be able to efficiently summarize the main points of a technical article and clearly present those points to an audience of their peers.


Assessment Measures

Include a list of appropriate assessment strategies. Keep in mind that different instructors use different assessment measures and strategies. For a General Education Course, in addition to a statement of course-specific assessment measures, include a description of the ways student learning will be assessed to determine fulfillment of the broad general education program goals and the goals established for the particular knowledge area of the program.

The grade for this class will be based on the following:

  • The oral presentations by the students.
  • The written technical review of the material they present.
  • Attendance at a minimum number of classes and participation in discussions involving the presentations.


Other Course Information

Examples: Bibliography of readings relevant to the course, special teaching aids, and any other information not contained in one of the above sections.

The readings for this course will come from several sources, depending on the level of the student. Sources may include the following, among others:

1. Online electronic archives such as those found at This archive is the world’s premiere pre-submission archive for papers in physics, astrophysics, astronomy and other areas closely related to physics. These are updated daily and thus reflect the current state of these fields throughout the world.
2. The American Journal of Physics, a monthly publication focused at the undergraduate curriculum.
3. Physics Today, a monthly publication focused on the current state of major topics in physics.


Review and Approval