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Florida International University has undergone a reform in the introductory physics classes by focusing on the laboratory component of these classes. We present results from the secondary implementation of two research-based instructional strategies: the implementation of the Learning Assistant model as developed by the University of Colorado at Boulder and the Open Source Tutorial curriculum developed at the University of Maryland, College Park. We examine the results of the Force Concept Inventory (FCI) for introductory students over five years (n=872) and find that the mean raw gain of students in transformed lab sections was 0.243, while the mean raw gain of the traditional labs was 0.159, with a Cohen’s d effect size of 0.59. Average raw gains on the FCI were 0.243 for Hispanic students and 0.213 for women in the transformed labs, indicating that these reforms are not widening the gaps between underrepresented student groups and majority groups. Our results illustrate how research-based instructional strategies can be successfully implemented in a physics department with minimal department engagement and in a sustainable manner.


This article was originally published in DOAJ Phys. Rev. ST Phys. Educ. Res. 7, 020102 (2011).

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.