A strong foundation in upper-level electrodynamics is necessary to learning Atomic, Molecular and Optical (AMO) Physics. But the combination of two features: students having to learn many key concepts, as well as to master the use of mathematical techniques in order to understand the applications, makes this course challenging both for the student and the instructor.
I have re-developed the upper-level electrodynamics course using ideas from Physics Education Research. The interventions used were: linking assessment to learning goals of the course, increasing student engagement via active learning, scaffolding for problem-solving, reducing lecture segments to 20minutes, and frequent testing. Student achievement has improved significantly – the average of final exam scores (closed book exam with all new questions every year) has increased by almost 15%, and the average class grade has gone from C+/B- to a high B+. "Before and after" examples of teaching methods will be presented.