Getting students to buy-in to non-traditional instruction

August 26, 2013

As the new semester is starting up, many of you are considering how to best promote student engagement in your course  — especially if you use non-traditional, research-based forms of instruction such as clickers, student discussion, or group work. We have a compiled set of approaches and materials, representing how instructors around the country help to […]

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PhET Simulations: Now on tablets! And a new logo!

August 21, 2013

Two big announcements from the PhET Interactive Simulations project! New!  Now for touch screens! First, PhET has been working their techie little butts off for quite a while to port their simulations over to HTML5.  No, I didn’t know what HTML5 was before this project started either.  It doesn’t really matter except that (a) it’s […]

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Clickers 101: Free webinar on Weds

August 19, 2013

Are you a college faculty member interested in clickers?  Come to our free, introductory webinar on Wednesday, 10:00 PT / 1:00 ET. To register, and for other webinars in this series, see (Note the session on October 30th geared towards humanities and social sciences, by my colleague Angel Hoekstra at CU Boulder). Handouts and slides […]

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Series of workshops on clickers and learning goals

August 19, 2013

I just completed a series of workshops on writing learning goals and using clickers to help with student achievement of those learning goals. You can find all the workshop materials on our website at the Science Education Initiative.  (Look for Past Workshops).  Includes handouts and slides, and you can download a zip of all materials. […]

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Postdoc job to transform UG courses at Colorado + STEM Center Director in Boston

July 26, 2013

Looking for a postdoc position in science educational research and course transformation?  Two exciting opportunities here at CU Boulder; these are fairly similar positions to my work here in the Science Education Initiative.  I get a lot of queries about where to find such positions, so hopefully this announcement will get out there to the […]

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How math anxiety affects performance (#PERC2013)

July 24, 2013

My other favorite talk at AAPT/PERC was by Sian Beilock (University of Chicago, Psychology), titled “Academic Performance under stress.”  Who would have guessed that from such an innocuous title would spring an intensely interesting, well-researched, sparklingly-clear exposition.  It is so refreshing to find a speaker who has clearly worked hard to communicate her field, and I’m […]

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Transformative experiences in science education (#AAPTsm13, #PERC2013)

July 23, 2013

One of the better talks at AAPT/PERC last week was one by Kevin Pugh of the University of Northern Colorado (Psychology dept).   Kevin discussed the psychology of a phenomenon that we are probably all implicitly familiar with as instructors, but wouldn’t generally consider to be the topic of scholarly work:  Under what conditions does […]

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Moving beyond telling faculty about educational innovations #aaptsm13

July 18, 2013

This post details a talk by Chandra Turpen about how faculty decide to adopt new instructional methods. A lot of previous work by Charles Henderson and Melissa Dancy has shown that the “develop and disseminate” model doesn’t work.  This is business-as-usual for educational innovators:  We develop innovations, share them at conferences and in papers, explain […]

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The history of Physics Education Research (PER) #aaptsm13

July 17, 2013

One session at AAPT is focusing on the history of physics education research (PER).  Karen Cummings (Southern Connecticut) was commissioned to write a report on the history of Physics Education Research (PER), along with others in biology, chemistry, earth science, etc.  All these papers were compiled into a book on the status of Discipline Based […]

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Feist and frustration in science #aaptsm13

July 17, 2013

I’m having a great time at the AAPT (American Association of Physics Teachers) summer meeting, and I have had so many people mention helpful blog posts from previous conferences that I thought I should try to sharpen my blogging-pen and do a little live-blogging from the sessions. An interesting talk just now from Jennifer Richards […]

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Postdoc available: Transform biology courses at CU Boulder

May 30, 2013

Are you a biologist looking for a good way to get into education and education research?  This is a great opportunity.  My program, the Science Education Initiative at CU Boulder is seeking a candidate to assist with undergraduate course transformation efforts. —- The Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EBIO) and the Science Education Initiative […]

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Journal of Visualized Experiments: Laboratory procedures video archive

May 16, 2013

Just joined your advisor’s lab and don’t want to admit you don’t know how to use a fume hood?   Teaching a laboratory class, and want to provide a resource for your students?  Or are you needing to replicate another researcher’s protocol for removing mice mammaries?  The Journal of Visualized Experiments (JOVE) is a very […]

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Why we won’t teach your MOOC

May 3, 2013

The Chronicle of Higher Education recently published an open letter from San Jose State University (Philosophy Department) indicating why they refused to teach a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) offered through EdX.  It’s incredibly thoughtful and powerful, foretelling a future where university education is simply the facilitation of such pre-packaged courses by a glorified teaching assistant, […]

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Envisioning & Implementing Effective Educational Programs

April 28, 2013

A very nice article about me was just published in the Spring issue of the Newsletter of the Committee on the Status of Women in Physics.  I think it’s a nice summary of what I’ve been focusing on in my career, and my philosophies of finding one’s path, so I am posting it here. Here […]

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Clickers in the Social Sciences (#clicker series)

April 22, 2013

Clickers are a natural fit for use in the physical sciences, where there is typically one right, or “best” answer to a question, and common errors in conceptual understanding or reasoning can lead to a wrong answer choice.  But what about in other disciplines, such as the humanities and social sciences?  A nice recent article […]

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Should students vote individually, should you have a whole class discussion? (#clicker series)

April 12, 2013

I’m continuing my series of posts on the literature related to clickers and the use of Peer Instruction.  Catching up on some good articles! This post regards an article from 2003, “Peer Instruction vs Class-wide Discussion in Large Classes:  A comparison of two interaction methods in the wired classroom,” D. J. Nichol and J. T. Boyle, […]

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Understanding clicker discussions (#clicker series)

April 5, 2013

To follow up on the last post on the benefits of anonymity in answering clicker questions and Peer Instruction, today I’d like to report on some of the newest research coming out of CU.  Jenny Knight has been co-author on two very nice papers in recent years, reporting results that peer discussion does enhance student […]

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Does anonymity matter? (#clicker series)

April 1, 2013

I have just finished reading an interesting article, “Anonymity and in class learning:  The case for electronic response systems,” (Freeman, Blayney and Ginns, Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 22(4), 568-580, 2006).  It’s worth a read just for the very nice and thoughtful review of the literature on electronic response systems (clickers) and benefits of anonymity. […]

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Science and Story: How narratives can lift your lessons

March 20, 2013

I have an interesting guest post today on a subject that is dear to my heart — why narrative, or storytelling, is important in teaching science.  My former boss and mentor at the Exploratorium, Paul Doherty, always captivated teachers during his workshops by telling the most interesting stories about the history of science.  The crazy […]

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Why do stars twinkle?

February 15, 2013

It’s been a long time since I posted a simple “how things work” post.  These used to be my bread and butter, and then, well, I got tired!  Learning new things is exhausting. But digging through my draft post archives, I found this nice little question that merits a bit of exploration. Why do stars […]

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