how people learn

What we’re NOT doing to train future physics teachers

October 14, 2010

Yesterday, we had a fascinating, but sobering, presentation from a group of physics educators charged with giving the nation a snapshot of how well we’re doing in training the next generation of physics educators.  It’s a pretty grim picture.  “Students who are becoming physics teachers are doing it on their own,” said David Meltzer, “and […]

Read the full article →

Education technology posts at AAPT (#aaptsm10)

July 21, 2010

I’ve posted several items about educational technology from AAPT on my other blog, TheActiveClass.  You can see those here: Do students learn better with peer instruction?  Does it last? Common challenges in using clickers Effective use of technology in physics education

Read the full article →

Evidence-based undergraduate science education: About the Science Education Initiative.

April 20, 2010

How do we transform undergraduate education?  That, of course, is the question of the century. We know there are problems with how undergraduate institutions are churning out students (and not cheaply, I might add) who can’t explain why we have seasons, or how to light a lightbulb. Or, perhaps worse, think that science is a […]

Read the full article →

We say “pshaw” to learning styles

March 23, 2010

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a very long time, but as any faithful readers might have noted, I’ve been a bit in-absentia for the past several months.   I was off busy making some money to support my blogging habit, but I’m happy to report that I’m back, and working on ramping up […]

Read the full article →

Why people make stupid decisions: Behavioral Economics

December 15, 2009

One of the things that’s puzzling to anyone, and especially us logic-oriented scientists, is how people can look at strong evidence and seemingly ignore it.  They go with their gut, or what they think they know, instead of the data staring them in the face. This is the basis of a huge amount of work […]

Read the full article →

Teaching Physics with the Physics Suite

November 11, 2009

If you’re a teacher — of physics, or any other physical science — and haven’t yet picked up a copy of Edward Redish’s Teaching Physics with the Physics Suite , I’m making a bid right now that you do so. I finally read it — really read it — instead of just browsing through a […]

Read the full article →

Enriching the intellectual life of teachers

August 27, 2009

This post is based on ideas from a presentation by Rachel Scherr of the University of Maryland and Seattle Pacific University. Teachers, Rachel says, are disenfranchised.  Just as students who have no voice in what and how they learn in the classroom, professional development is often inflicted upon teachers who have no voice in the […]

Read the full article →

Pre-service and In-service physics teacher training (Blogging from the AAPT)

July 29, 2009

Today’s session is about pre-service and in-service teacher training There is very little research to direct teacher training programs, which are treated as practical programs, and even less in physics.  A lot of work has been done in what’s called “pedagogical content knowledge” or “PCK” — you can see my previous posts here and here […]

Read the full article →

Interactive lecture demonstrations (Blogging from the AAPT)

July 28, 2009

Today’s session is about using interactive lecture demonstrations to effectively improve your students’ understanding of concepts. As I mentioned in my previous post, while students like demos, they don’t get the things we want them to get unless they predict the results of the experiement or somehow get involved.  David Sokoloff showed how they have […]

Read the full article →

Sustaining instructional reform (Blogging from the AAPT)

July 28, 2009

This session is about how some institutions have sustained change in their courses, and what are the central features of changes that stick:  Eugenia Etkina (Rutgers), Steven Pollock (CU Boulder), Charles Henderson (Western Michigan). The NSF will provide money to create reforms, but individual institutions have to figure out how to make them stick.  How […]

Read the full article →

Teaching in Urban Schools (Blogging from the AAPT)

July 27, 2009

Teaching in Urban Schools – Katya Denisova – Science Coordinator, Baltimore Public Schools. This was a talk about factors to consider when teaching science in schools with high poverty levels.  Baltimore has a large poverty rate (30% of kids under 18 live in poverty if I understood her statistic right, though that seems high), and […]

Read the full article →

Eliciting student ideas with little toy cars (Blogging from the AAPT)

July 26, 2009

Today’s session is all about using diagnosis, or assessment, in your teaching (“Designing a Diagnostic Learning Environment in the Pre-College Classroom”; Lezlie DeWater, Eleanor Close, and Hunter Close). In the last post I talked about one way to elicit students ideas, using a video and brainstorm.  This time, they gave us a bunch of pull-back […]

Read the full article →

Eliciting student ideas (Blogging from the AAPT)

July 26, 2009

Today’s session is all about using diagnosis, or assessment, in your teaching (“Designing a Diagnostic Learning Environment in the Pre-College Classroom:; Lezlie DeWater, Eleanor Close, and Hunter Close). Formative assessment is assessment that happens before or during your teaching, to help students learn.  Summative assessment is what we more typically think of as assessment — […]

Read the full article →

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 […]

Read the full article →

[Clickers in upper division physics] 3. The critics speak

May 27, 2009

This is part 3 of an ongoing set of posts about using clickers in upper division physics courses, as we’ve been doing at U. Colorado for several years. Arguments against using clickers in upper division We’ve heard plenty of arguments about why people don’t want to use clickers in the upper division. Here are a […]

Read the full article →

[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 […]

Read the full article →

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 […]

Read the full article →

A tool to diagnose your students’ learning difficulties

May 12, 2009

One of our main messages here at the Science Education Initiative is that it’s important that teachers both find out what their students difficulties are, and then choose their instructional strategies accordingly. That sounds easy, but for the average college faculty (facing a sea of 200 faces) or the average K12 teacher (who has to […]

Read the full article →

Spreading great ideas in teaching: How does change happen?

March 17, 2009

In my previous post on The Burden of Proof (what does educational research tell us?), many of us started to discuss why do faculty choose to change their teaching, if they decide that they should? (The question of whether or not they should is left for another discussion, another day). So, I’m sitting now in […]

Read the full article →

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 […]

Read the full article →