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Presentations

Page history last edited by Joe Redish 8 years, 11 months ago

invited talk at the AAPT National Summer Meeting, Omaha NE, August 2011

Reforming physics for biologists and pre-meds: disciplinary barriers

Edward F. Redish, Todd Cooke, Wolfgang Losert, and Karen Carleton

 

The calls from the biology and medical communities for reform of undergraduate biology education [1] requests that support courses be reformed as well. At the University of Maryland, the Physics and Biology Education Research Groups [2] have been discussing these issues and interviewing students in physics and biology classes. We find that adapting physics classes for biology students and including physics in biology classes is going to be harder than it appears on the surface. There are epistemological differences in the way both students and professionals in biology and physics think about their science, differences in the way they use math, and differences in the way they think about fundamental concepts. These differences create barriers to reform. Additional barriers arise when chemists and mathematicians are included. Bridging these disciplinary barriers to create effective reform is going to require creativity, open minds, and a willingness to communicate.

     


    poster at the Physics Education Research Conference, Omaha NE, August 2011

     

    Students' Views of Macroscopic and Microscopic Energy in Physics and Biology

    Benjamin W. Dreyfus, Edward F. Redish, Jessica Watkins

     

    Energy concepts are fundamental across the sciences, yet these concepts can be fragmented along disciplinary boundaries, rather than integrated into a coherent whole.   To teach physics effectively to biology students, we need to understand students' disciplinary perspectives.  We present interview data from an undergraduate student who displays multiple stances towards the concept of energy.  At times he views energy in macroscopic contexts as a separate entity from energy in microscopic (particularly biological) contexts, while at other times he uses macroscopic physics phenomena as productive analogies for understanding energy in the microscopic biological context, and he reasons about energy transformations between the microscopic and macroscopic scales.  This case study displays preliminary evidence for the context dependence of students' ability to translate energy concepts across scientific disciplines.  This points to challenges that must be taken into account in developing curricula for biology students that integrate physics and biology concepts.

     


     

    roundtable discussion at the American Education Research Association conference, April 2011

     

    Examining the Impact of Student Expectations on Undergraduate Biology Education Reform

    Kristi L. Hall, Jessica E. Watkins, Janet E. Coffey, Todd J. Cooke, Edward F. Redish

     

    The past 10-15 years have seen numerous calls for curricular reform in undergraduate biology education, most of which focus on changes to curriculum or pedagogy. Data collected from students in a large introductory undergraduate biology course indicate that student expectations about the nature of the knowledge they were learning influence how they interacted with reform efforts in that class. Given that student expectations influence the ways in which they participate in course activities, this paper (the first in a series that looks at student expectations in biology) argues that curriculum reform initiatives should consider student expectations in order to increase the chance for effective implementation.

     


    poster at NSF CCLI PI Conference, January 2011

     

    A New Approach Toward Teaching Introductory Organismal Biology

    Todd J. Cooke, Jeff Jensen, Jessica E. Watkins, Kristi L. Hall, Edward F. Redish

     

     


    invited talks at American Association of Physics Teachers Winter Meeting, January 2011

     

    Using mathematics and physics in biology courses

    Jessica E. Watkins, Kristi L. Hall, Janet E. Coffey, Todd J. Cooke, Edward F. Redish

     

    In a collaborative effort with biology and physics education researchers, we are examining student expectations about and responses to the use of mathematics and physics in their introductory biology course. While the common perception is that biology students do not like mathematics and equations, our results suggest that students' views are more nuanced and context-dependent. In this talk, we present data from student interviews that document students' shifts in attitudes over time and point to the intellectual resources students have for learning the mathematics and physics needed to understand biology. We discuss the implications of this research for introductory physics courses for the life sciences and instructors who are interested in how to bring a more quantitative perspective to biology.

     

     

    Why biology students have so much trouble using physics in biology courses 

    Todd J. Cooke, Jeffrey Jensen, Jessica E. Watkins, Kristi L. Hall, Edward F. Redish

     

    The NRC report BIO 2010 and the Association of American Medical Colleges report Scientific Foundations for Future Physicians are transforming undergraduate biology education. These reports advocate increased incorporation of fundamental math, physics, and chemistry into biology courses; increased relevance of general science courses for biology students; and the change from required courses to specified competencies. Physicists, biologists, and science educators at UM are working together on implementing these reforms in a principles-based, introductory biology class BSCI 207 Principles of Biology III: Organismal Biology and an algebra-based, IPLS sequence PHYS 121/122 Fundamentals of Physics I/II. This talk will address the some of the major disciplinary, curricular, pedagogical, and epistemological issues that appear to interfere with effective reforms in these courses. We conclude that successful IPLS reforms will unavoidably depend on the ability to implement coordinated reforms in introductory biology courses.

     


    contributed poster at the AAPT summer meeting, Portland, OR, July 2010

     

    Understanding How Students Use Physical Ideas in Introductory Biology Courses

    Jessica Watkins, Kristi Hall, Janet Coffey, Edward F. Redish, Todd J. Cooke

     

    Abstract: The University of Maryland Biology and Physics Education Research Groups are investigating students' views about the role of physics in introductory biology courses. The Bio 2010 report emphasized the value of integrating physics, mathematics, and chemistry into the undergraduate biology curriculum. This poster presents data from an introductory course that addresses the fundamental principles of organismal biology. This course incorporates several topics directly related to physics, including thermodynamics, diffusion, and fluid flow. We examine pre- and post-attitude survey, interview, and class observation data to establish how students consider and employ these physical ideas in the context of their biology course. These results have broad implications as physics instructors consider reforms to meet the interdisciplinary challenges of Bio 2010.

     


    contributed poster at the Physics Education Research Conference, Portland, OR, July 2010

     

    Understanding How Students Use Physical Ideas in Introductory Biology Courses

    Jessica Watkins, Kristi Hall, Janet Coffey, Edward F. Redish, Todd J. Cooke 

     

    Abstract: The University of Maryland Biology and Physics Education Research Groups are investigating students' views about the role of physics in introductory biology courses. The Bio 2010 report emphasized the value of integrating physics, mathematics, and chemistry into the undergraduate biology curriculum. This poster presents data from an introductory course that addresses the fundamental principles of organismal biology. This course incorporates several topics directly related to physics, including thermodynamics, diffusion, and fluid flow. We examine pre- and post-attitude survey, interview, and class observation data to establish how students consider and employ these physical ideas in the context of their biology course. These results have broad implications as physics instructors consider reforms to meet the interdisciplinary challenges of Bio 2010.

     


    contributed talk at the AAPT/APS joint meeting, Washington DC, February 2010.

     

    Student Attitudes for Using Physics in Biology 

    Kristi L. Hall, Todd J. Cooke, Heather D. Dobbins, Edward F. Redish, Jessica E. Watkins

     

    Abstract: The University of Maryland Biology and Physics Education Research Groups are investigating students' views about the role of physics in introductory biology courses. The Bio 2010 report* emphasized the value of integrating physics, mathematics, and chemistry into the undergraduate biology curriculum. While mathematics and chemistry integration is progressing well, physics remains segregated. We are carrying out pre- and post-attitude surveys (using the new Maryland Biology Expectations survey, MBEX), individual interviews, and class observations in an introductory course that addresses the fundamental principles of organismal biology. Our observations indicate that these students have (i) limited ability to apply their physics knowledge to biological problems, (ii) strong feelings about the appropriateness of incorporating physical principles into biology courses, and (iii) even antagonistic feelings toward physics in general. Developed utilizing the resource-framework model, active-learning exercises should help students learn to think scientifically -- by developing reasoning skills, building conceptual models, and working in groups. *National Research Council, BIO 2010: Transforming Undergraduate Education for Future Research Biologists (The National Academies Press, 2003).

     


    poster at the GIREP meeting, Leicester, UK, August 2009.

     

    Transforming the Physics Education of Undergraduate Biology Students in Introductory Physics and Biology Courses

    Edward F. Redish, Todd J. Cooke, Heather D. Dobbins, Kristi L. Hall

     

    Abstract: In 2003, the US National Academy of Sciences issued the BIO 2010 report that called for the increased incorporation of mathematics, physics, and chemistry into undergraduate biology curriculum, and for a corresponding increase in the biological relevance of introductory science courses for biologists. This initiative has led to widespread interdisciplinary efforts that are transforming the way mathematics and chemistry is taught to US biology students, but it has not prompted comparable reform in physics. There appear to be a number of reasons for this lag. Many Physics faculty are hesitant about pruning and reorganizing traditional content and may not be familiar with the content that biologists feel is relevant and useful, while many Biology faculty are hesitant about including physics in their biology classes explicitly. At the University of Maryland, a group of physicists and biologists have started working together to better understand the roadblocks to implementing a coordinated revision of our introductory biology and physics courses for biology students. The challenges facing this effort occur at a variety of levels. 1) Introductory physics for biologists is often a “cut-down” version of introductory physics for engineers.  As such, it inherits some inappropriate approaches.  For example, it introduces the second law of Thermodynamics via heat engines and ignores chemical energy. This approach is inappropriate because organisms cannot convert temperature gradients into useful metabolic energy, whereas other forms of physical and chemical energy are continually being transformed in biological systems.  2) Introductory biology classes typically are “fact-based”, relying on extensive reading and focusing on concept mastery, including introducing the student to many different terms, processes, and relationships, while physics courses are structured to emphasize complex reasoning from a small set of fundamental laws and principles.  3) Physics classes rely heavily on problem-solving and are over the past decade have developed extensive active-engagement learning pedagogy, whereas biology courses still tend to rely heavily on direct lecture and protocol-based laboratories. 4) Biology classes tend to use mathematics to represent qualitative dependences, while physics classes treat math as a fundamental reasoning tool.  Our poster presents examples and suggestions for bridging these gaps.  Our goal is to initiate a widespread discussion among physicists and biologists regarding the physics challenge in the BIO 2010 initiative.

     

     

     

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