A thoughtful approach to instruction: Course transformation for the rest of us

April 13, 2011

I keep meaning to write a post about my most recent publication in the Journal of College Science Teaching:  A Thoughtful Approach to Instruction (downloads seem to be free).  The program I’m part of at the University of Colorado is the Science Education Initiative.  Started by Carl Wieman when he got the Nobel Prize for […]

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The disappearance of the final exam

October 13, 2010

Today we have a guest post from Olivia Coleman (who contributes to another blog).  Her post on the decline of the final exam follows on the heels of an interesting article in the Boston Globe — “The Test Has Been Canceled” — which generated quite a bit of buzz on the PHYSLRNR listserv, where geeks […]

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Great blog on technology and teaching

November 9, 2009

I’ve been really enjoying a blog put out by the University of Colorado’s ASSETT (Arts and Sciences Support of Education through Technology) program.  They have frequent posts on technology that relates to higher education, and how it really impacts your classroom. For example, connecting with students by Facebook; considerations, or whether to mentor via FB […]

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Are lectures evil?

September 14, 2009

No, of course not.  But to hear us education folks prattle on, you’d think that an instructor who lectures to their students is doing them a grave disservice. Well, if all they’re doing is lecture, then their students could be getting more bang for their buck.  But lecturing is perhaps an indispensable part of class, […]

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Why clickers?

June 19, 2009

A good little post by Derek Bruff recently details his arguments why clickers are useful in college classrooms.  If you’re a skeptic, or trying to convince a skeptic, it’s worth checking out his post We’ve also got a video that shows many of these same points — here that is. Once again, here are a […]

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What does the digital world mean for today’s college classrooms?

June 15, 2009

I guess that I’m the last person to see this, but this YouTube video on digital technology and college education from Kansas State University made the rounds a while back.  It’s a very moving presentation of how distanced students feel from their own learning and the role that technology plays in that. From a teacher’s […]

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[Clickers in upper division physics] 2. What kinds of questions do we ask?

May 21, 2009

This is my second post in a series about using clickers in the upper division. A lot of people have trouble imagining what kinds of questions you might ask at the upper division. The challenge is to make them tough, but not too tough. You want students to have to think and argue about them, […]

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[Clickers in Upper Division Physics] 1. What does it look like?

May 19, 2009

I recently gave a talk at the AAPT about how we’re using clickers in upper division physics, and I keep meaning to include this as a post here! I wonder, should I submit this to The Physics Teacher, perhaps? First off, you can download my powerpoint, as well as the accompanying videos, here. There are […]

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Troublesome students in group work

May 19, 2009

There was an interesting discussion on a college level email list recently about classroom management, where an instructor was trying his darndest to create a group learning environment in his classroom, but ended up with a bunch of rowdy off-task students.  A whole plethora of responses flooded in with personal experiences on classroom management and […]

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Clickers in upper division physics. 1. What does it look like?

March 4, 2009

I recently gave a talk at the AAPT about how we’re using clickers in upper division physics, and I keep meaning to include this as a post here!  I wonder, should I submit this to The Physics Teacher, perhaps? First off, you can download my powerpoint, as well as the accompanying videos, here. There are […]

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Classroom Clickers and the Cost of Technology

February 11, 2009

There’s been a quite interesting (and sometimes vitriolic) exchange of ideas on the usefulness (and cost) of clickers in college classrooms, in which I recently took part.  A “clicker,” for those of you who haven’t heard of them yet, is just a little device which lets an instructor take a real-time poll of the class.  […]

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A time for telling

October 10, 2008

“A Time for Telling” is the title of one of my favorite papers of Dan Schwartz (Professor of Education at Stanford). In it, he argues that lecture isn’t all bad. We complain that lecture (or “direct instruction” in ed-speak) doesn’t result in a lot of learning for our students. This has been shown again and […]

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Watering the garden of future teachers (TA training)

September 22, 2008

There was an interesting post, and comment thread, over at Built on Facts — on How to Be a Good TA. I’ve been wanting to respond to it for two weeks and have been too busy. It is interesting that this discussion came up just as I was forwarded a great article about TA Training […]

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Electron band structure in Germanium, my ass

September 18, 2008

I didn’t come up with that title.  That’s the title of a lab report turned in by a disgruntled physics major after the obligatory upper-division laboratory.  It’s kinda famous in the physics circuit.  Read it.  It’s funny. Quotable quote: Check this shit out (Fig. 1). That’s bonafide, 100%-real data, my friends. I took it myself […]

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Nobody’s ever taught you anything

September 15, 2008

We remember these great teachers who have taught us so much about the world. But did they really? Some educators firmly believe that you can’t teach someone anything — rather, they have to learn it for themselves. A great teacher is someone who helps make that happen. A great teacher is a facilitator of learning […]

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The Physics Source – for Intro Physics

September 10, 2008

Posted from the PHYSLRNR listserv.  This resource looks very nice, useful and well-organized.  You can browse by topic (looking for a teaching activity on atomic physics?) as well as a wealth of other resources (click on PER-Support to look for assessments or how to use active engagement in the classroom). The AAPT, through COMPADRE has […]

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Everyday language helps students learn

August 29, 2008

A new study at Stanford finds that using everyday language helped students learn. The results are only preliminary, since it was a small study and they don’t have a lot of data on students’ english language proficiency, but it is still an interesting and promising bit of research. An excerpt from the Stanford Report tells […]

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Sciencegeekgirl fails the geek test

August 21, 2008

Oh dear, do I have to rescind my “sciencegeekgirl” moniker? Twisted Physics just posted about a “Test your Science Savvy” quiz that was posted on World’s Fair. I got two wrong on that quiz (which disqualifies me from being a geek, by their scoring), but it was because I was thinking too hard, in a […]

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How to tell if glasses are nearsighted or farsighted

August 21, 2008

A neat observation from one of the staff physicists at the Exploratorium: Here is a little game to play with farsighted and nearsighted glasses. Ask all your students who wear glasses to put them on and stand up. Walk up to each of them, look into their eyes and you will be able to tell […]

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A plethora of science teaching resources

August 1, 2008

Here is a list of useful resources for physics teaching: Simulations and Computer Modeling The National Science Digital Library just announced the creation of a new web resource for finding curriculum resources. The Open Source Physics Collection provides curriculum resources that engage students in physics, computation, and computer modeling. Computational physics and computer modeling provide […]

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