Presentations

    Teaching and Research: Inseparable responsibilities of the modern physicist, at APS Centennial Meeting 1999 (Atlanta, GA), Tuesday, March 23, 1999:
    Mention the word ""physics"" to the average high-school student and you are not likely to see many happy faces. Public opinion of science in general--and physics in particular--is not high. More importantly, misunderstandings about the goals and procedures of physics are rampant. In part, these problems arise because physics education has focused nearly exclusively on generating a steady supply of future physicists. The need to educate non-majors, let alone the public at large, has generally not been perceived as an important mission of physics departments. Now that the need for physics is no... Read more about Teaching and Research: Inseparable responsibilities of the modern physicist
    Factors That Make Peer Instruction Work: A 700-User Survey, at 2000 AAPT Winter Meeting (Kissimmee, FL), Tuesday, January 18, 2000:
    Peer Instruction, a teaching strategy in which lectures are interspersed with short, conceptual questions (""ConcepTests""), is used widely in introductory physics and other classes at the college and secondary school levels. Although anecdotal evidence suggests that many instructors achieve success, there has been no previous systematic study of the factors contributing to the effectiveness of Peer Instruction. We administered a comprehensive survey of nearly 700 Peer Instruction users worldwide, gathering data on implementation and outcomes in a wide variety of settings and institutions. We... Read more about Factors That Make Peer Instruction Work: A 700-User Survey
    Confusion: Students' Perception vs. Reality, at American Association of Physics Teachers Winter 2000 Meeting (Kissimmee, FL), Tuesday, January 18, 2000:
    Should an instructor be discouraged when students say ""I'm confused""? This is a crucial issue for educational reform, because students often report feeling more confused when they are asked to think more for themselves. We report on an analysis of the relationship between perceived confusion and understanding in introductory physics. We asked 200 students during one semester to indicate what, if anything, they found difficult or confusing in their pre-class reading assignment and correlated their responses to answers they provided on questions on corresponding topics. Preliminary results... Read more about Confusion: Students' Perception vs. Reality
    Teaching and Research: Inseparable responsibilities of the modern physicist, at Advisory Committee Meeting, National Science Foundation, Directorate for Mathematical and Physical Sciences (Arlington, VA), Thursday, April 13, 2000:
    Mention the word ""physics"" to the average high-school student and you are not likely to see many happy faces. Public opinion of science in general--and physics in particular--is not high. More importantly, misunderstandings about the goals and procedures of physics are rampant. In part, these problems arise because physics education has focused nearly exclusively on generating a steady supply of future physicists. The need to educate non-majors, let alone the public at large, has generally not been perceived as an important mission of physics departments. Now that the need for physics is no... Read more about Teaching and Research: Inseparable responsibilities of the modern physicist
    Assessing the initial state of knowledge of first-year genetics students, at ASM Eighth Undergraduate Microbiology Education Conference, American Society for Microbiology (Orlando, FL), Saturday, May 19, 2001:
    A survey was designed to assess students' understanding of concepts and familiarity with biology terminology at the beginning of a new introductory genetics course. The class, which serves as the first college biology course for all students majoring in Biological Sciences or fulfilling premedical requirements, assumes no prior knowledge and enrolls mainly first-year students. The survey asked students to rate their familiarity with over 80 words in genetics and to define a selection of these terms. Students were also asked to answer a few conceptual questions as well as provide background... Read more about Assessing the initial state of knowledge of first-year genetics students
    Innovations that work in large physics courses: why and how?, at Astronomy Department Chairs Meeting, Harvard University (Cambridge, MA), Friday, June 15, 2001:
    Education is more than just transfer of information, yet that is what is mostly done in large introductory courses -- instructors present material (even though this material might be readily available in printed form) and for students the main purpose of lectures is to take down as many notes as they can. Few students have the ability, motivation, and discipline to synthesize all the information delivered to them. Yet synthesis is perhaps the most important -- and most elusive -- aspect of education. Students get frustrated because they are unable to grasp simple concepts. Instructors get... Read more about Innovations that work in large physics courses: why and how?
    Educational Activities, at DEAS Industrial Outreach Workshop, Harvard University (Cambridge, MA), Thursday, April 10, 2003:
    The Center actively promotes interdisciplinary education and outreach through a variety of initiatives. Participants contribute to outreach to the general public through collaboration with the Boston Museum of Science, outreach to K-12 in-service teachers, research experiences for undergraduates and K-12 teachers, interdisciplinary courses for graduate students, and postdoctoral fellowships for women and minorities. The program involves faculty, postdoctoral fellows, collaborators and graduate students associated with the Center and benefits a broad constituency of society.
    How the Mind Tricks Us: Visualizations and Visual Illusions, at Teaching Renewal Conference, University of Missouri-Columbia (Columbia, MO), Friday, February 27, 2004:
    Neurobiology and cognitive psychology have made great progress in understanding how the mind processes information – in particular visual information. The knowledge we can gain from these fields has important implications for the presentation of visual information and student learning.
    Barriers to reform, at Physics Brown Bag Seminar, University of Colorado (Boulder, CO), Wednesday, April 21, 2004
    Talk of changing the way we educate students is nothing new. Maxwell wrote in his letters about students failing to learn. Socrates said we should teach by questioning, not telling. Yet, changing the way we teach seems to be more difficult than moving a mountain. One of the main reasons may be that we misinterpret the signals students send us.
    Using technology to facilitate learning in large lecture classes, at University of Colorado (Boulder, CO), Thursday, April 22, 2004:
    It has been suggested the lack of interaction in large lecture courses is to blame for the many problems facing these courses: declining enrollments, low attendance, poor evaluations, and disappointing retention. We offer a way of redesigning the classroom so interaction is introduced in many aspects of the course. This approach has shown to be effective by many instructors in a broad variety of environments. I will demonstrate some of the tools we have developed to foster this interaction.

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