Inquiry-based Learning in the Technical Maritime Environment


The United States Coast Guard Academy, in four years, provides all graduates the technical training and academic preparation to achieve the rank of Ensign in the Coast Guard, to be awarded a Bachelor of Science and to be fleet-ready upon graduation. During the course of their tenure at the Academy, the cadets are subjected to a rigorous scientific, engineering, managerial, liberal arts and nautical science curriculum common to all majors, in addition to their specialized training in one of eight major fields of study. Part of the scientific rigor common to all majors includes two semesters of Calculus-based physics. For years, the Physics Education Research (PER) community has indicated that an active learning environment enhances student understanding of the material. During the 2002-2003 academic year the Academy revamped both the Physics I and Physics II courses, Mechanics and Electricity and Magnetism respectively, so as to incorporate an activity-focused, interactive learning environment into the curriculum. In this paper we will share some of the interactive teaching methods used in our courses.