I did not ask any of the other instructors to perform any formal assessment of the modules they used in their classes, but I did discuss their experiences with them. The following email exchange between myself and Robert Chavez, faculty at Sonoma State University teaching one semester at Marin College, gives an idea of the types of experiences the instructors and students have had at other schools. By the way, Steve Klein, who teaches at Yuba College, reported having a similar experience with his students.
Dear Dr. Meier,
I have been hired to teach the equivalent of E45 at the College of Marin by Dr. Erik Dunmire. Dr. Dunmire gave me some materials you have written regarding ionic bonding that look very interesting. I am in the process of reading and trying the exercise out myself.
I'm glad you're interested in this experiment. I have been updating it a bit and can send you the latest version if you like. We've also started using pre- and post-lab exercises and handouts to help the students prepare for the experiment and write their reports. You can download these from www.matsci.ucdavis.edu/matscilt/eng-45l/eng-45l.htm
The teaching guide is in a draft form, but you are welcome to it. In exchange, I'd really like to hear your comments on it. Where should I send them?
I will be happy to give you feedback on all the materials. Dr. Bryant Hichwa teaches physics at Sonoma State and has created some Excel based exercises for undergraduates. Although it's a different subject I am thinking the two of you might have tips, etc. for each other. If that's of interest to you let me know & I will forward your email address to him.
I have copies of the pre & post lab. If you think the revisions are significant I'll download them before continuing otherwise I'll continue with what I got then look at the new stuff.
Thanks for the detailed answers. Luckily my solid state physics class covered Madelung Const. in gory detail. I was surprised not to see it in Ch. 2 but I looked at my old text (by A.G. Guy) and saw it's not there either.
I found your discussion of lattice sites very helpful. 10% is about the variation I'm seeing in Poisson's ratio. In question 4, I did use the full precision constants. Must be something else. Regarding centered difference it's good to see that not everything regresses over time (unlike students' math skills which seem to decrease steadily).
Do you mind if I use some of your comments in my progress reports?
Please feel free to use my comments in anyway that is useful to you. May be your book agent can use them to help get it published. We will start this lab tomorrow.
I did your bonding lab. I offered to show students how to do some of the detailed steps in Excel. They all claimed they were "experts". Of course, they quickly learned how much there was to know. We spent 4 hours on the lab just getting all the equations & plots to work for KCl. It was very valuable both for their knowledge of excel & for connecting the atomic to the macroscopic. Erik is thinking of making a new class covering excel mandatory for the materials class & that would really help next time.
The best part is the people who were least certain of their excel knowledge did the best while those more confident floundered in the execution. They seemed to know all about changing line widths, markers & colors but debugging formulas & organizing skills were lacking. They failed to follow your excellent advice on how to layout the spreadsheet & suffered for it.