A new MIT physics MOOC, Mechanics ReView, has a long history of development and a proven ability to help even struggling students master the material. Available for the first time on the edX platform starting June 1, this course has been offered in various incarnations and iteratively developed and improved over the past five years, both in class and online. The course uses a unique pedagogical model developed to help students learn more effective strategies for solving mechanics problems, a model that has been demonstrated in studies to improve student expertise in problem solving and provide skills that carry forward measurably into subsequent courses.

“We’ve been able to measure the difference this approach makes,” explains Professor David Pritchard, who developed the course. “We can see that the students move from a focus on formulas to a focus on underlying concepts, and develop better strategies for solving problems. And this is a skill that leads to significantly better performance in their next physics course.”

The course originated as a three-week January review of classical mechanics offered in 2009 to MIT students who struggled in first-semester physics course 8.01 Classical Mechanics. The review course was taught as a “flipped classroom,” using class time for teaching advanced problem-solving skills, while making the delivery of course material outside of class as efficient and effective as possible. The instructional team developed a series of sophisticated online supports for the class, using evidence-backed research and careful data analysis of student performance. Read more.