Assessment as Pedagogy in a Compressed-Format Summer Physics Abroad Program

  • Hsiu-Zu Ho Gevirtz Graduate School of Education, University of California, Santa Barbara
  • Yeana Lam University of California Education Abroad Program
  • Kelly Wahl College of Letters and Science, University of California, Los Angeles
  • Eric Yao School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Glasgow
  • Jackie Grant School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences, University of Sussex
  • Padraig Dunne School of Physics, University College Dublin
Keywords: Formative assessment, Pedagogical approaches, Physics education, Study abroad, Compressed format course


This paper examines the impact of assessment and instructional practices in a compressed-format physics abroad program for life science students from a large U.S. university system. Using qualitative case study methodology, the study investigated the major pedagogical functions of assessments and their implications on student learning across three international sites. Findings from interviews, focus groups, and survey responses of international physics instructors indicated that instructors accommodated the unique program format and student cohort by fostering a highly supportive and collaborative environment for frequent formative assessments, feedback, and intervention. These pedagogical developments provide students the opportunity to learn physics intensively and gain disciplinary, metacognitive, and intercultural understanding.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biographies

Hsiu-Zu Ho, Gevirtz Graduate School of Education, University of California, Santa Barbara

Dr. Hsiu-Zu Ho is Associate Dean of the University of California Education Abroad Program with responsibilities in the academic integration, academic oversight, and faculty engagement across multiple campuses of the university system. She is a faculty member at the University of California, Santa Barbara with research focus on international education and cross-cultural psychology, board member of International Student Exchange Program, and a Fulbright senior scholar research recipient.

Yeana Lam, University of California Education Abroad Program

Dr. Yeana W. Lam is a senior research analyst at the systemwide office of the University of California Education Abroad Program. Her current research focus is on the academic integration of study abroad and the assessment of intercultural learning, cognitive, and psychosocial skills, as well as other learning outcomes in education abroad activities.

Kelly Wahl, College of Letters and Science, University of California, Los Angeles

Kelly Wahl (BA, Stanford; MFA, University of Massachusetts Amherst) has conducted institutional research for over twenty-five years at institutions including research-intensive public universities, medium-sized private universities, and the largest urban community college system in the United States. Among his special interests are data mining studies of student information system data, key performance measure identification and interpretation, and learning outcomes assessment.

Eric Yao, School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Glasgow

Dr. Eric Yao is a senior lecturer with 15 years experience in teaching and science education scholarship with expertise in maximizing student effort and student self-efficacy. He is a member of the center for computing science education and the astronomy & physics education group. His main area of interest is in holistic student-centered teaching interventions. This encompasses projects ranging from epistemology and learning theories to student data analysis and specific learning and assessment recipes.

Jackie Grant, School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences, University of Sussex

Dr. Jackie Grant is lead convener, exam board chair, and admissions tutor for Foundation Year in Physics and Engineering. Dr. Grant is also lead convener of Physics Undergraduate Summer School, lead convener of physics and the mathematics associate tutor teaching training module, physics link tutor for International Partner program, and University and College Union Sussex Branch physics representative.

Padraig Dunne, School of Physics, University College Dublin

Dr. Padraig Dunne obtained his PhD in atomic spectroscopy in 1994 from University College Dublin. His research is in the area of laser produced plasmas, where he has over 100 co-authored publications and has supervised over 30 graduate research students. He is the director of the Summer School that UCD (Dublin) runs for University of California students and has significant experience in teaching physics for the life sciences to early undergraduate students.


ABET (2020). Criteria for accrediting engineering programs, 2020-21. ABET.

Allen, D. E., Duch, B. J., & Groh, S. E. (1996). The power of problem‐based learning in teaching introductory science courses. In L. Wilkerson & W. Gijselaers (Eds.), Bringing problem-based learning to high education: Theory and practice (pp. 43-52). Jossey-Bass.

Aşıksoy, G., & Özdamlı, F. (2016). Flipped classroom adapted to the ARCS model of motivation and applied to a physics course. Eurasia Journal of Mathematics, Science and Technology Education, 12(6), 1589-1603.

Author (2020). [Title omitted for review.] [Unpublished manuscript].

Becher, T. (1990). Physicists on physics. Studies in Higher Education, 15(1), 3-20.

Bennett, R. E. (2011). Formative assessment: A critical review. Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy & Practice, 18(1), 5-25.

Bernstein, B. (2000). Pedagogy, symbolic control, and identity: Theory, research, critique. Rowman & Littlefield.

Black, P. (2001). Formative assessment and curriculum consequences. In D. Scott (Ed.) Curriculum and assessment (pp. 7-23). Ablex.

Black, P., & Wiliam, D. (1998). Assessment and classroom learning. Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy & Practice, 5(1), 7-74.

Black, P., & Wiliam, D. (2018). Classroom assessment and pedagogy. Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy & Practice, 25(6), 551-575.

Blumenthal, P., & Laughlin, S. (Eds.) (2009). Promoting study abroad in science and technology fields. Institute of International Education.

Boud, D., & Soler, R. (2016). Sustainable assessment revisited. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 41(3), 400-413.

Crouch, C. H., & Mazur, E. (2001). Peer instruction: Ten years of experience and results. American Journal of Physics, 69(9), 970-977.

Crouch, C., Fagen, A. P., Callan, J. P., & Mazur, E. (2004). Classroom demonstrations: Learning tools or entertainment? American Journal of Physics, 72(6), 835-838.

Daniel, E. L. (2000). A review of time-shortened courses across disciplines. College Student Journal, 34(2), 298-309.

Deslauriers, L., McCarty, L. S., Miller, K., Callaghan, K., & Kestin, G. (2019). Measuring actual learning versus feeling of learning in response to being actively engaged in the classroom. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 116(39), 19251-19257.

Giordano, G. (2011). A Quasi-Qualitative Analysis of Time-Compressed Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Course Pedagogy. [Masters thesis, Pennsylvania State University].

Hake, R. R. (1992). Socratic pedagogy in the introductory physics laboratory. The Physics Teacher, 30(9), 546-552.

Hake, R. R. (1998). Interactive-engagement versus traditional methods: A six-thousand-student survey of mechanics test data for introductory physics courses. American Journal of Physics, 66(1), 64-74.

Halloun, I. A., & Hestenes, D. (1985). The initial knowledge state of college physics students. American Journal of Physics, 53(11), 1043-1055.

Hamir, H. B. (2011). Go abroad and graduate on-time: Study abroad participation, degree completion, and time-to-degree. [Doctoral dissertation, University of Nebraska-Lincoln].

Institute of International Education. (2019). Open Doors. Institute of International Education.

Kenny, S. S., Thomas, E., Katkin, W., Lemming, M., Smith, P., Glaser, M., & Gross, W. (2001). Reinventing undergraduate education: Three years after the Boyer Report. The Boyer Commission on Educating Undergraduates in the Research University.

Klawe, M. (2019, March 6). Why we need more STEM students to study abroad. Forbes.

Kops, W. J. (2014). Teaching compressed-format courses: Teacher-based best practices. Canadian Journal of University Continuing Education, 40(1), 1-18.

MacKenzie, J., & Pritchard, J. (2013). Variation in students' experience of learning in an accelerated, residential, study abroad setting in comparison to their traditional HE experience. Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education, 6.

Meltzer, D. E., & Thornton, R. K. (2012). Resource letter ALIP–1: Active-learning instruction in physics. American Journal of Physics, 80(6), 478-496.

Nicol, D. J., & Macfarlane‐Dick, D. (2006). Formative assessment and self‐regulated learning: A model and seven principles of good feedback practice. Studies in Higher Education, 31(2), 199-218.

Redish, E. F. (1996, March 14). New models of physics instruction based on physics education research [Paper presentation]. Deutschen Physikalischen Gesellschaft, Jena, Germany.

Redish, E. F. (1999). Millikan lecture 1998: Building a science of teaching physics. American Journal of Physics, 67(7), 562-573.

Scott, P. A. (1996). Attributes of high-quality intensive course learning experiences: Student voices and experiences. College Student Journal, 30, 69-77.

Scott, P. A. (2003). Attributes of high-quality intensive courses. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, 97, 29-38.

Seccia, L. (2018). Developing a global engineer: Study abroad experiences of engineering majors in one university system. (Publication No. 10621169) [Doctoral dissertation, University of California Santa Barbara]. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global.

Shepard, L. A. (2000). The role of assessment in a learning culture. Educational researcher, 29(7), 4-14.

Sin, C. (2014). Epistemology, sociology, and learning and teaching in physics. Science Education, 98(2), 342-365.

Stains, M., Harshman, J., Barker, M. K., Chasteen, S. V., Cole, R., DeChenne-Peters, S. E., Eagan Jr., M. K., Esson, J. M., Knight, J. K., Laski, F. A., Levis-Fitzgerald, M., Lee, C. J., Lo, S. M., McDonnell, L. M., McKay, T. A., Michelotti, N., Musgrove, A., Palmer, M. S., Plank, K. M., ... Levis-Fitzgerald, M. (2018). Anatomy of STEM teaching in North American universities. Science, 359(6383), 1468-1470.

Stathopoulou, C., & Vosniadou, S. (2007). Exploring the relationship between physics-related epistemological beliefs and physics understanding. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 32(3), 255-281.

Sutton, R. C., & Rubin, D. L. (2010, June). Documenting the academic impact of study abroad: Final report of the GLOSSARI project. [Conference presentation]. NAFSA 2010 Conference, Kansas City, MO, United States.

Torrance, H. (2012). Formative assessment at the crossroads: Conformative, deformative and transformative assessment. Oxford Review of Education, 38(3), 323-342.

Van Deusen, B. G. (2007). Moving beyond marketing study abroad: Comparative case studies of the implementation of the Minnesota model of curriculum integration. [Masters thesis, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities].

Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Harvard University Press.

Wayland, J. P., Chandler, E. W., & Wayland, R. F. (2000, March). Summer scheduling on a traditional campus: Expectations, reality, and implications [Paper presentation]. Annual Conference of the Southwestern Marketing Association, San Antonio, TX, United States.

Wieman, C. (2007). Why not try a scientific approach to science education? Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, 39(5), 9-15.

Wyse, D., Hayward, L., & Pandya, J. (Eds.) (2016). Curriculum, pedagogy and assessment. Sage.

How to Cite
Ho, H.-Z., Lam, Y., Wahl, K., Yao, E., Grant, J., & Dunne, P. (2021). Assessment as Pedagogy in a Compressed-Format Summer Physics Abroad Program. Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, 33(1), 63-81.