Developed by: Joe Redish, Ben Dreyfus, Ben Geller, Julia Svoboda Gouvea, Wolfgang Losert, Kimberly Moore, Vashti Sawtelle, Chandra Turpen, and the NEXUS team

middle schoolhigh schoolintro collegeinter-mediateupper levelgrad school   other

Intro College Calculus-based
calc based
 Intro College Algebra-based
alg based
 Intro College Conceptual

Mechanics  Electricity / Magnetism  Waves / Optics  Thermal / Statistical  Mathematical  Other Science
Lecture - Large (30+ students)  Lecture - Small (<30 students)  Recitation/Discussion Session  Lab  Homework  Studio

What? An Introductory Physics for Life Sciences (IPLS) class designed to develop general scientific competencies such as mathematical modeling and mechanistic reasoning, fit effectively into a standard curriculum for biologists and pre-health care students, and be biologically authentic.

Why? Helps life sciences students make meaningful connections between physics and their disciplines and have a positive experience of physics. Helps your department make courses relevant. Based on extensive research into connections among different disciplinary approaches to concepts in physics. Free.

Why not? Very different from standard algebra-based physics curriculum and may feel unfamiliar to instructors. Requires instructors to learn about biology, which may require time and discomfort.

Topic outline

Instructor effort required

  • Medium

Resources required

  • Tables for group work

Developer's website: NEXUS/Physics

NEXUS/Physics includes a textbook and a collection of problems. You can access both the textbook and the problems as a free wiki from the NEXUS/Physics ComPADRE site. You can download both as pdfs, along with problem solution, from the Living Physics Portal. Your students can buy the textbook from TopHat, or use the problems on Expert TA.

Gold Star Validation
This is the highest level of research validation, corresponding to:
  • both of the "based on" categories
  • at least 4 of the "demonstrated to improve" categories
  • at least 5 of the "studied using" categories
(Categories shown below)

Research Validation Summary

Based on Research Into:

  • theories of how students learn
  • student ideas about specific topics

Demonstrated to Improve:

  • conceptual understanding
  • problem-solving skills
  • lab skills
  • beliefs and attitudes
  • attendance
  • retention of students
  • success of underrepresented groups
  • performance in subsequent classes

Studied using:

  • cycle of research and redevelopment
  • student interviews
  • classroom observations
  • analysis of written work
  • research at multiple institutions
  • research by multiple groups
  • peer-reviewed publication


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