Eric Brewe (Modeling in University Physics)

Last night we talked with Eric Brewe who teaches at Florida International University. He presented on the Modeling Theory of Instruction and how they use it as his school. He showed us a couple of vids of his students interacting and he facilitated a great discussion.

Here’s the recording link.

Next week we have Stephanie Chasteen:

I’ll be talking about how Physics Education Research can learn from the experts in science communication.   This will be an excerpt from a plenary talk I did, so I’ll talk and invite discussion along the way.   Just as science journalists are struggling to communicate to a skeptical public about topics such as climate change, physics education researchers are struggling to communicate to physics faculty about research-based instructional strategies.  I’ll talk about some of the ideas and best practices I’ve learned in my career as a science communicator, including a stint at NPR, and how it does (and doesn’t!) apply to this problem — effectively communicating the results of PER to non-PER instructors.

Standards-based grading this week

This week (Wednesday, 10/19) we’ll be talking about standards-based grading again. Two of us will talk about particular items we’ve implemented in a SBG format and we’ll have plenty of time to talk about other details as well.

I (Andy Rundquist) will talk about Standards-based grading with voice. My students submit all their assessments with their voice. They do the either as screencasts (using software like Jing), pencasts (with LiveScribe smart pens), or in person during oral assessment days. I feel that I really get a good feel for what they know and what they’re struggling with. I’m happy to talk about logistics, technology, and the benefits I’ve seen.

John Burk will talk about capstones:


The deepest levels of physics understanding, those that correspond to grades of ‘A’, cannot be assessed with a single question or one step problem. In order to show this mastery you will be asked to complete small projects, called capstones. Capstones must do the following:

  • Show synthesis of multiple concepts and models in unfamiliar situations. A capstone requires you to use more than one idea to solve a problem, and it isn’t just a rehashing of work you’ve already done.
  • Show initiative. A capstone isn’t just your teacher telling you what to do. It is you unleashing your curiosity to discover what you want to do.
  • Are open ended. Capstones don’t have ends. You should always feel like you could dig deeper and discover more if you had more time.
  • Are public. Capstones are not private projects you share only with your teacher. They are public endeavors that you share with the class and the world at large. Successful capstones require you to collaborate with classmates, and even with physics teachers and students from beyond our class (this is easier than you think).
  • Involve significant revision. No one gets it right the first time, no first draft is perfect, and you must plan accordingly. A capstone will not be eligible for grading by me until it has undergone at least one revision.

Nathan Moore – cognitive acceleration

Last night we spoke with Nathan about what he and collaborators are doing to study the effects of increasing students cognitive ability. We talked about the Lawson test, UK education, middle schools, and lots of other ideas. Check out the recording.

Next week we’ll talk about the recent Nobel prize. Join us!

The week after that we’ll have another session on Standards-Based Grading. I’ll talk about what I’ve been doing with students’ voices, John Burk will talk about capstones, and you’ll ask questions like crazy.