2006 journal article
Restructuring the introductory electricity and magnetism course
AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PHYSICS, 74(4), 329–336.
In the electricity and magnetism (E&M) segment of the traditional introductory calculus-based physics course, many new and increasingly abstract concepts, embodied in complex formal relations, are introduced at a rapid pace. As a result, many students find E&M significantly more difficult than classical mechanics. We describe a different intellectual structure for the E&M course that stresses conceptual coherence, connects the abstract field concept to concrete microscopic models of matter, and follows a clear story line, culminating in the classical model of the interaction of electromagnetic radiation and matter. This sequence has proven to be effective in teaching the basic concepts of E&M.