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Over a four-year time span, several departments at North Carolina State University offered experimental sections of courses taken by freshman engineering students. The acronym IMPEC (Integrated Math, Physics, Engineering, and Chemistry curriculum) describes which classes were involved. This paper discusses the physics component of the curriculum and describes the impact of the highly collaborative, technology-rich, activity-based learning environment on a variety of conceptual and problem-solving assessments and attitude measures. Qualitative and quantitative research results indicate that students in the experimental courses outperformed their cohorts in demographically matched traditional classes, often by a wide margin. Student satisfaction and confidence rates were remarkably high. We also noted substantial increases in retention and success rates for groups underrepresented in science, math, and engineering. Placing students in the same teams across multiple courses appears to have been the most beneficial aspect of the learning environment.
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