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Engaging the Unengaged: Bio-contextualized Physics Lab. By Matthew Fleenor, Matthew Rearick, and DorothyBelle Poli Roanoke College. What motivated your project?. “Why do I have to take physics?”. Motivation: Why did we work together?. New integrative general education curriculum

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Engaging the unengaged bio contextualized physics lab

Engaging the Unengaged: Bio-contextualized Physics Lab

By

Matthew Fleenor, Matthew Rearick, and

DorothyBelle Poli

Roanoke College


What motivated your project
What motivated your project?

“Why do I have to take physics?”


Motivation why did we work together
Motivation: Why did we work together?

  • New integrative general education curriculum

  • FIPSE grant to provide sustainable faculty development for integrative teaching and learning


What we wanted to achieve
What we wanted to achieve!

“Why do I have to take physics?”

  • Objective: To renovate the required 100-level laboratories so students would observe and experience the deep connections between physics and biology


Goals
Goals

  • Demonstrate an increased level of understanding (physics, integration of fields, writing skills).

  • Technical Laboratory Skills

  • Student engagement


Course structure
Course Structure

  • Traditional physics lab exercises with:

    • Bio-application lecture/conversations

    • Complete biophysics lab exercise

    • Weekly follow-up wiki

    • Integrative Activities

    • Quantitative problems


Course structure1
Course Structure

  • Traditional physics lab exercises with:

    • Bio-application lecture/conversations

    • Complete biophysics lab exercise

    • Weekly follow-up wiki

    • Integrative Activities

    • Quantitative problems


Course structure2
Course Structure

  • Traditional physics lab exercises with:

    • Bio-application lecture/conversations

    • Complete biophysics lab exercise

    • Weekly follow-up wiki

    • Integrative Activities

    • Quantitative problems


Course structure3
Course Structure

  • Traditional physics lab exercises with:

    • Bio-application lecture/conversations

    • Complete biophysics lab exercise

    • Weekly follow-up wiki

    • Integrative Activities

    • Quantitative problems



Course structure5
Course Structure

  • Traditional physics lab exercises with:

    • Bio-application lecture/conversations

    • Complete biophysics lab exercise

    • Weekly follow-up wiki

    • Integrative Activities

    • Quantitative problems


Course structure6
Course Structure

  • Traditional physics lab exercises with:

    • Bio-application lecture/conversations

    • Complete biophysics lab exercise

    • Weekly follow-up wiki

    • Integrative Activities

    • Quantitative problems



To what extent did we achieve our goals
To what extent did we achieve our goals?

  • Demonstrate an increased level of understanding

    (physics, integration of fields, writing skills).

    - understanding of physics and writing take long amounts of time to alter

    (NO)‏

    - biology/physics integration occurs on a faster time-scale

    (YES)‏

  • Technical Laboratory Skills

    - difficult to assess across all sections (NO)‏

    - showed marked increase throughout semester, but true of all sections?

    (YES)‏

  • Student engagement

    - interests were heightened (YES)‏


How do we know what measures were used
How do we know? What measures were used?

  • Demonstrate an increased level of understanding

    (physics, integration of fields, writing skills).

    - Final grades did not show noticeable elevation

    - pre-/post-test for mechanics concepts was also flat

    - poor response rate on college-wide evaluations

    - post-essay did show better integration, but not skills

  • Technical Laboratory Skills

    - difficult to assess (+ within other sections)‏

    - showed marked increase throughout semester based

    on grades (due to small class; norm for labs)‏

  • Student engagement

    - personalized evaluative data

    (compared to what?)‏


What will we offer in the future
What will we offer in the future?

  • Permanent materials

    - pre-lab questions

    - post-lab extension questions

    - portable exercises already developed

  • Emphasis on writing and integrative activities

    - importance of writing (across all sections)‏

    - formal individual and group integrative projects

  • Student engagement

    - how much will be lost when collaborators are not in the

    classroom

    - expertise will not be readily available



What institutional support was most helpful
What institutional support was most helpful?

  • Overarching theme & purpose of the Grant

    • Grant personnel

    • Excuse to experiment

    • Very open to ideas (freedom to fail)

    • Ahhh …. Lunch! (with minimal agenda)

      • Different pedagogies … any and all things teaching (vent, yes; support, yes; problem-solving, yes …)

      • Impacted not just this course sequence but other classes as well (at least mine)

  • Dean & Chairs (3 departments)


Advice for similar faculty projects
Advice for Similar Faculty Projects

  • Model

    • … our setup/model (1 + support grp), our disciplinary diversity and our academic “age”

  • Challenges –

    • Support

      • Dean & Chair (everybody happy until …)

        • TCU’s … justifying time, etc.

          • Qualifying thought: Feasibility of our model

        • Immediate and long term rewards/compensation?

      • Making this work for ….

        • professional dev./tenure interests

        • student evals? – remember, it’s a group effort


Advice for similar faculty projects1
Advice for Similar Faculty Projects

  • Reminders

    • a priori discussion on …

      • Classroom responsibility and work/effort accountability

    • Growth as Teachers

      • Willingness to grow, be wrong and, most likely, you are better (or worse) than you think

    • Realistic Expectations

      • It will not be perfect to start … IMPROVE the educational experience for students, no more, no less

    • Be Transparent

      • Openness with Chairs


Thank you
Thank You!

  • Questions?

    Matt Fleenor (Physics) [email protected]

    Matt Rearick (HHP) [email protected]

    DB Poli (Biology) [email protected]


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