Development of an Interdisciplinary Microcomputer-Based Teaching and Learning Platform to Enhance Understanding of Spectroscopy Associated with Physical & Biophysical Phenomena

Tania De, LeVatrice Nora, Girum Gugsa and P. Misra Department of Physics & Astronomy, Howard University, Washington, D.C. 20059 de tania,; shortstop 20-- 1999(; gi rum a,; pmisra

Rajendra Singh

Department of Endodontics, College of Dentistry, Howard University, Washington, DC 20059, rsinghna,


     The present study is a collaboration between the Department of Physics & Astronomy and the Department of Endodontics and will allow sharing of research work and results across disciplines. Collaborative and cross-disciplinary research in the current project will prove especially valuable in helping students develop a deeper understanding of how spectra can help differentiate between healthy and diseased teeth, so that diagnosis and early detection can prevent dental decay and teeth extraction. We are in the process of developing a comprehensive spectral database of an assortment of teeth that can be effectively used in the class room for enhanced instruction and learning. The primary teaching and learning goals for the project are two-fold: (i) Content Goal- designed to help students understand and apply conceptual models to a range of observable phenomena and (ii) Metacognitive Goal-aimed at helping students become aware of and take on more responsibility for their own learning (and also become aware of the thought process of others in a group-setting). The instructional and learning techniques employed to realize the above goals will include the following: (i) Demonstration and discussion activities, which will be instructor-led with a primary purpose aimed at eliciting students' prior knowledge and promoting change in ideas where appropriate; (ii) Seat experiments, which will be designed with small groups of 3-4 students in order to facilitate exploration of new phenomena and application of powerful ideas; (iii) Laboratory activities, often requiring all students to make similar observations, so that there will be a common ground for discussion; and (iv) Homework assignments, aimed at requiring students to apply evolving knowledge in new contexts. The above cited learning goals and techniques will be presented in the context of understanding spectral features that will help discriminate between healthy, carried and periodontaly affected teeth.


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