The purposes of the lecture are to:

  1. model some of the reasoning processes by which physicists construct new knowledge following the story-line;
  2. introduce the fundamental concepts and principles necessary to the story line; and
  3. explicitly model all steps and decision processes in problem solving.

The majority of the lecture time is spent in the traditional manner with the lecturer talking, writing, giving demonstrations, and solving problems before a large number of students. Some peer guided practice, which involves students' active participation in the concept development, is accomplished using small ad-hoc cooperative groups of 2 or 3 students sitting near each other.

Informal cooperative group discussions are also used at other times during the lecture. When a new concept is introduced, the lecturer periodically stops and asks students to answer a question involving the new concept. This can be a planned question, or a spontaneous question inspired by the blank or puzzled looks on their faces. This small-group activity can be followed by a short question-and-answer period, which is now more focused because of the previous small group discussion. Occasionally, the predictions or answers to questions are written down and collected for grading. By grading the group outputs, the lecturer communicates that the students' active involvement in the construction of knowledge is an important component of the class.