Perc: a departmental solution for web-enhanced courses
Since the Fall of 1998, the department of Physics and Astronomy at Mississippi State University has been using and developing PERC (Providing Electronic Resources for Courses), a set of utilities that can be used to supplement regular courses with web content. PERC was developed to help infuse proven innovative and effective teaching practices into introductory courses. It was meant to affect both the in-class activities as well as the outside of class activities. Some of the examples envisioned were the Just-in-Time teaching method as well as the use of inquiry-based tutorials. To insure continuity, effort was made to ensure that the tools were easy to use by both students and faculty, and that they do not require an extra time investment from the faculty. For instance, PERC allowed faculty teaching several sections of the same course to seamlessly deliver the same content to all sections while maintaining student records separate. Furthermore, PERC’s design allowed faculty teaching the same course to easily collaborate in developing assignment questions. Since then PERC has evolved into a department level course management utility. It is now used to provide homework, quizzes, grades, notes, message boards, as well as laboratory oversight. We will use this paper to describe PERC, the modular approach used in developing it, as well results from feedback surveys.