For the third year in a row, I'm going to be teaching Rice's honors intro mechanics course (PHYS 111). I use the outstanding but mathematically challenging (for most first-year undergrads) book by Kleppner and Kolenkow. It seems pretty clear (though I have done no rigorous study of this) that the students who perform best in the course are those that are the most comfortable with real calculus (both differential and integral), and not necessarily those with the best high school physics background. Teaching first-year undergrads is generally great fun in this class, though quite a bit of work. Since these are a self-selected bunch who really want to be there, and since Rice undergrads are generally very bright, they are a good audience.
I do confess, though, that (like all professors who really care about educating students) I go back and forth about whether I've structured the class properly. It's definitely set up like a traditional lecture course, and while I try to be interactive with the students, it is a far cry from some of the modern education research approaches. I don't use clickers (though I've thought seriously about it), and I don't use lots of peer instruction or discovery-based interactions. The inherent tradeoffs are tricky: we don't really have the properly configured space or personnel resources to do some of the very time-intensive discussion/discovery-based approaches. Likewise, while those approaches undoubtedly teach some of the audience better than traditional methods, perhaps with greater retention, it's not clear whether the gains outweigh the fact that nearly all of those methods trade subject content for time. That is, in order to teach, e.g., angular momentum really well, they dispense with other topics. It's also not clear to me that these methods are well-suited to the Kleppner-Kolenkow level of material.
As unscientific as a blog posting is, I'd like to solicit input from readers. Anyone out there have particularly favorite approaches to teaching intro physics at this level? Evidence, anecdotal or otherwise, that particular teaching methods really lead to improved instruction, at the level of an advanced intro class (as opposed to general calc-based physics)?