Recommendations

42 Recommendations are tagged with ""

How do I design a SCALE-UP classroom?

September 22, 2017 by Robert Beichner, SCALE-UP developer, and Sam McKagan, PhysPort Director

SCALE-UP is an integrated learning environment where the physical space is designed to discourage lecture and facilitate interactions between small groups working on short, interesting tasks. SCALE-UP classrooms often look more like a restaurant than a lecture hall. Because these classrooms are so different from traditional classroom settings, designing a SCALE-UP classroom can be a challenge.

SCALE-UP,  active learning,  classroom design


How to build tables for SCALE-UP classrooms

September 22, 2017 by Bill Nettles, Union University

Here are instructions for building 7-foot diameter round tables for use in SCALE-UP classrooms, where students spend the majority of their time working in small groups on interesting projects. These tables are the ideal size and shape for SCALE-UP classrooms, according to the developer of SCALE-UP, and can comfortably seat 3 groups of 3 students at each table.

SCALE-UP,  classroom design


What kind of whiteboards should I use?

September 22, 2017 by Sam McKagan, PhysPort director

Whiteboards are a great tool for students to work out ideas individually and collaboratively, and to present those ideas. Based on reports from expert educators, this recommendation discusses the questions you should ask when choosing whiteboards, and the advantages and disadvantages of each type of whiteboard, product suggestions, and the advantages of whiteboards over other collaboration tools.

whiteboarding,  best practices,  SCALE-UP,  Modeling Instruction


Best practices for whiteboarding in the physics classroom

September 22, 2017 by Sam McKagan and Daryl McPadden

Whiteboards are an indispensable tool that physicists use to work out ideas individually and collaboratively, and to present those ideas, both for public discussion and critique of tentative ideas and for communication of more fully formed ideas. In this recommendation, we offer guidance for how to use whiteboarding effectively in your classroom.

whiteboarding,  best practices,  SCALE-UP,  Modeling Instruction


How do I help students engage productively in active learning classrooms?

June 20, 2017 by Stephanie Chasteen, University of Colorado Boulder

If you incorporate active-learning strategies into your teaching, you may find that students don't automatically embrace this new learning approach. What are research-based recommendations for motivating students to engage? This is the introduction to a series of recommendations discussing strategies to support student engagement.  INTRODUCTION.

engagement,  active learning,  productive engagement


How can I set clear expectations in active learning classes, so students see the value of engaging?

June 20, 2017 by Stephanie Chasteen, University of Colorado Boulder

When students encounter an active learning classroom, they may be unsure of what is expected of them. They may fear they won't be evaluated fairly, or won't see a clear path towards success, reducing their engagement in activities. This second chapter of our student engagement series focuses on how to create clear expectations for student engagement and learning. CHAPTER 1: EXPECTATIONS.

engagement,  active learning,  expectations,  first day of class,  productive engagement


How can I help students become more expert learners, so they engage in active learning?

June 20, 2017 by Stephanie Chasteen, University of Colorado Boulder

Students may expect to simply memorize and recite information to succeed in your course. But this approach doesn't match well with an active classroom, where students wrestle with difficult ideas collaboratively. This second chapter of our student engagement strategy series focuses on teaching students to develop more productive mindsets towards learning. CHAPTER 2: METACOGNITION AND MASTERY.

engagement,  active learning,  metacognition,  mastery,  productive engagement


How can I help students feel intrinsically and extrinsically motivated to engage in active learning?

June 20, 2017 by Stephanie Chasteen, University of Colorado Boulder

If students don't want to engage in active learning, it's pretty hard to force them. You can't rely solely on grades to spark students to action. This third chapter in our student engagement series focuses on motivating students to engage productively in active learning classrooms through the use of various internal and external rewards. CHAPTER 3: MOTIVATION

engagement,  active learning,  motivation,  productive engagement


How can I create community in an active classroom, so that students feel encouraged to engage?

June 20, 2017 by Stephanie Chasteen, University of Colorado Boulder

It is challenging for instructors to create and maintain a classroom environment where students are comfortable engaging with each other and sharing their results with the class. This difficulty increases with class size. This fourth chapter in our student engagement series focuses on creating a supportive and respectful classroom community that welcomes engagement. CHAPTER 4: CLASS COMMUNITY

engagement,  active learning,  community,  productive engagement


How can I assess the level of student engagement in my class?

June 20, 2017 by Stephanie Chasteen, University of Colorado Boulder

Instructors who are attempting active learning are often concerned that students won't like it, or will resist. It can be hard, even in the middle of a course, to gauge how well-engaged students are. This fifth chapter of our student engagement series focuses on ways to assess student engagement, both formally and informally. CHAPTER 5: ASSESSMENT

engagement,  assessment,  active learning,  productive engagement


How can I set the stage for student engagement in an active learning classroom, from the first day?

June 20, 2017 by Stephanie Chasteen, University of Colorado Boulder

When students come into your class, they may not be expecting an active class. The first day is particularly important for framing the norms, expectations, and rationale for your class approach, tapping into students' internal motivations and creating a supportive class community. This sixth chapter of our student engagement series focuses on the first week of class. CHAPTER 6: FIRST DAY

first day of class,  active learning,  engagement,  productive engagement


How can I help students work well in small groups, so they are more likely to engage?

June 20, 2017 by Stephanie Chasteen, University of Colorado Boulder

Most active learning techniques involve the creation of student groups, but groups do not always work productively, and not all tasks are suited to group work. Poor group dynamics, or ill-suited tasks, can reduce student engagement in active learning. This seventh chapter of our student engagement series focuses on support of productive group dynamics. CHAPTER 7: GROUP WORK

engagement,  cooperative groups,  active learning,  worksheets,  productive engagement


What can I do if students don’t speak up in discussions with peers, or with the whole class?

June 20, 2017 by Stephanie Chasteen, University of Colorado Boulder

Many active learning techniques require students to discuss their ideas either in small groups or in a large class discussion, but, as you know, students don't always erupt into productive conversation. This eighth chapter of our student engagement series focuses on helping students engage in class discussions. CHAPTER 8: STUDENT DISCUSSIONS.

engagement,  active learning,  discussion,  productive engagement


What if I get low student evaluations, or hear complaints about active learning?

June 20, 2017 by Stephanie Chasteen, University of Colorado Boulder

While active resistance among students is relatively rare, sometimes students do complain about active learning techniques. This ninth chapter of our student engagement series focuses on addressing some common student complaints in active learning classrooms. CHAPTER 9: STUDENT COMPLAINTS

engagement,  complaint,  active learning,  productive engagement


How can I design (or find) a good group activity for physics students?

January 3, 2017 by Joshua Von Korff, Georgia State University

I want to give my students something to work on in groups, but what should they work on? I know that researchers have created many physics activities, but I don't know what I'm looking for. What does a good activity look like? OR, I'm really excited about inventing my own labs or worksheets to give students, but I don't know how to design an activity.

active learning,  cooperative groups


Where can I find good questions to use with clickers or Peer Instruction?

September 26, 2016 by Sam McKagan, PhysPort director

Many research-based teaching methods in physics, including Peer Instruction, CAE Think-Pair-Share, Technology Enhanced Formative Assessment, and teaching with clickers, involve having your students discuss and answer multiple-choice conceptual questions. A challenge of using these methods is finding and writing good questions. This recommendation helps you find and write questions for your class.

Peer Instruction,  CAE Think-Pair-Share,  Technology-Enhanced Formative Assessment,  clickers


Where can I find good activities for small group discussions?

September 26, 2016 by Sam McKagan, PhysPort director

Nearly all research-based teaching methods in physics involve some kind of small group discussions of challenging conceptual activities. Finding good activities is an important component of making small group discussions work in your class. This recommendation includes links to collections where you can find activities to use in your class.

active learning,  cooperative groups,  SCALE-UP,  Peer Instruction,  CAE Think-Pair-Share,  Technology-Enhanced Formative Assessment,  clickers


Addressing common concerns about concept inventories

July 8, 2016 by Adrian Madsen, Sam McKagan and Eleanor Sayre

Concept inventories are useful for assessing the effectiveness of your teaching, but as you use them, concerns and questions often come up. Here we discuss some common concerns about using concept inventories and related research that addresses these concerns.

assessment,  concept inventories


How do I use PhET simulations in my physics class?

June 28, 2016 by Stephanie Chasteen and Yuen-ying Carpenter

PhET provides fun, free, interactive, research-based science and mathematics simulations. This post describes why you might want to use PhET, and how other faculty have integrated PhET into undergraduate physics courses -- in lecture, homework, labs, and with inquiry-based activities.

active learning,  PhET Interactive Simulations


How do I increase student interactivity when using PhET simulations in lecture?

June 28, 2016 by Stephanie Chasteen and Yuen-ying Carpenter

PhET simulations are free, online interactive simulations for teaching and learning science. The impact of lecture demonstrations using PhET is greatly increased when students are given the opportunity to interact with the simulations.  This article discusses facilitating student discussions, peer instruction, and interactive lecture demonstrations, with PhET.

active learning,  PhET Interactive Simulations,  lecture,  interactive lecture demonstration,  peer instruction,  clickers


How can I design an effective in-class student worksheet for PhET simulations?

June 28, 2016 by Yuen-ying Carpenter and Stephanie Chasteen

PhET simulations are free, online interactive simulations for teaching and learning science. In this document, we will discuss using PhET in a guided worksheet; a strategy which has been found to support student learning. But how do we help students use the questions and the simulation to think about the physics, or to practice new skills – not just focus on getting to the end of the worksheet?

active learning,  PhET Interactive Simulations,  worksheets,  cooperative groups,  inquiry


What are some tips for facilitating PhET with in-class worksheets?

June 28, 2016 by Emily Moore and Stephanie Chasteen

PhET simulations are free, online interactive simulations for teaching and learning science. Some teachers use the simulations in-class with guided worksheets or labs. This document describes some suggestions for facilitating activities using PhET -- in a class, lab, or recitation -- in order to get your students to engage with PhET activities.

active learning,  PhET Interactive Simulations,  worksheets,  cooperative groups


What are some tips for using PhET in a lab setting?

June 28, 2016 by Stephanie Chasteen

PhET simulations are free, online interactive simulations for teaching and learning science. The simulations emphasize visual models, cause-and-effect relationships, and multiple representations. Using PhET in a lab setting has many benefits, such as allowing new possibilities for experiments (such as quantum mechanics), quick repeatability, and making visible the underlying mechanisms.

active learning,  PhET Interactive Simulations,  laboratory,  recitation


What are some tips for using PhET with homework?

June 28, 2016 by Stephanie Chasteen

PhET simulations are free, online interactive simulations for teaching and learning science.   PhET is ideal for use in homework because the simulations are designed to cue students to explore cause-and-effect relationships, even without an instructor present.

active learning,  PhET Interactive Simulations,  homework,  assessment


How can I teach a graduate class on the basics of physics education research?

March 23, 2016 by Sam McKagan, PhysPort Director

Several leaders in physics education research (PER) have put together "Intro to PER" courses for graduate students and advanced undergraduates. If you are teaching a course like this, this collection of course websites and syllabi contains lots of good ideas for what to do in your course.

physics education research


How can I train teaching assistants and/or learning assistants?

March 22, 2016 by Sam McKagan, PhysPort Director

Many research-based teaching methods in physics include activities in which graduate teaching assistants (TAs) and/or undergraduate learning assistants (LAs) facilitate students working in small groups. The success of these methods thus depends heavily on how well TAs and LAs are trained in effective facilitation. Ideally, TAs and LAs should take a course in which they learn about the…

cooperative groups,  teaching assistant training,  learning assistant training,  active learning


Effect size: What is it and when and how should I use it?

March 18, 2016 by Adrian Madsen, Eleanor Sayre, and Sam McKagan

When making changes in the way we teach our physics classes, we often want to measure the impact of these changes on our students' learning. Often we do this by administering a research-based assessment at the beginning and end of the class and calculating the change between pre and post. There are several different measures that can be used to tell you, in one number, how to compare learning...

assessment,  concept inventories,  effect size,  best practices


Normalized gain: What is it and when and how should I use it?

March 18, 2016 by Sam McKagan, Eleanor Sayre, and Adrian Madsen

Introduction to normalized gain:
The normalized gain, introduced by Hake in 1998 "as a rough measure of the effectiveness of a course in promoting conceptual understanding," has become the standard measure for reporting scores on research-based concept inventories. Hake defined the average normalized gain as:
<g> = (<Post> - <Pre>)/(100 - <Pre>)

assessment,  concept inventories,  normalized gain,  best practices


Recursos en Español / Research-based teaching resources in Spanish

March 16, 2016 by Sam McKagan, PhysPort Director

PhysPort es un recurso de internet para apoyar a los profesores de física a utilizar estrategias de enseñanza y evaluación basadas en investigación en sus clases. El sitio es en ingles, pero muchos de los recursos a que se refiere han sido traducido a español. Esta página tiene una lista de recursos para enseñanza y evaluación…

active learning,  assessment,  español


How can I get students to have productive discussions of clicker questions?

March 15, 2016 by Jenny Knight and Sarah Wise, University of Colorado - Boulder

Clicker questions are increasingly being used to stimulate student discussion and provide faculty and students with timely feedback. Research suggests that discussing clicker questions can lead to increased student learning, and that students exchanging constructive criticism can generate conceptual change.
What can you do as an instructor to encourage all students to have…

clickers,  cooperative groups,  active learning,  best practices,  peer instruction


How do I facilitate Tutorials in Introductory Physics?

March 15, 2016 by Sam McKagan and Stephanie Chasteen

Tutorials in Introductory Physics are a research-based student activity, developed by the Physics Education Group at the University of Washington (UW). Students work in small groups to complete worksheets based on common student difficulties. Extensive research has demonstrated that Tutorials can improve student learning when implemented properly. Tutorials have been implemented…

Tutorials in Introductory Physics,  active learning,  cooperative groups,  case study


Where can I learn more about research-based teaching in physics?

February 19, 2016 by Sam McKagan, PhysPort Director

PhysPort:
PhysPort, the site you're on right now, is designed to support physics teaching by providing resources based on physics education research (PER), including guides to 50+ research-based teaching methods, guides to 50+ research-based assessments, expert recommendations by PhysPort staff and PER experts, and video workshops for faculty professional development and TA/LA…

physics education research,  active learning


Arguments for skeptical colleagues

February 12, 2016 by Sam McKagan, PhysPort Director

Do your skeptical colleagues question you or ask you to justify your use of research-based teaching methods in physics? This recommendation provides answers to the most frequently asked questions about research-based teaching in physics from your skeptical colleagues.
-What is PER and why should I care?
-What are research-based teaching methods in physics and why should I care?

skeptical colleagues,  physics education research,  active learning,  assessment,  problem-solving


Ten results of physics education research that every physics instructor should know

February 11, 2016 by Sam McKagan, PhysPort Director

This is a draft outline for an article describing the results of physics education research that are most important for practicing physics instructors to know and apply in their classrooms. We will be publishing the results in installments on PhysPort. The goals of this article are to explain the research behind each result in enough detail that readers can easily understand why…

physics education research,  active learning,  assessment,  problem-solving,  beliefs


Which polling method should I use for Peer Instruction?

February 10, 2016 by Sam McKagan, PhysPort Director

Several research-based teaching methods, including Peer Instruction, CAE Think/Pair/Share, and Technology-Enhanced Formative Assessment, involve asking students to discuss and answer multiple-choice conceptual questions in class. There are at least three methods of collecting students’ answers to these questions: clickers, flashcards, and show of hands. Lasry…

clickers,  flashcards,  Peer Instruction,  CAE Think-Pair-Share,  Technology-Enhanced Formative Assessment,  active learning


How do I facilitate a Periscope lesson for TA/LA training or faculty PD?

February 10, 2016 by Rachel Scherr, creator of Periscope

Periscope connects authentic video episodes from best-practices physics classrooms to big questions of teaching and learning. Periscope lessons are useful if you:
-supervise learning assistants (LAs) or teaching assistants (TAs)
-lead faculty development
-seek to improve physics teaching in your department
-want to improve your own physics teaching

Periscope,  teaching assistant training,  learning assistant training,  faculty professional development,  active learning,  cooperative groups,  best practices


What makes research-based teaching methods in physics work?

February 10, 2016 by Sam McKagan, PhysPort Director

The PhysPort Teaching Methods pages contain guides to over 50 "PER-based teaching methods."  We define "teaching method" in the broadest possible sense, to include curricula, techniques, resources, tools, and reform strategies.  We use "PER-based teaching method" as a synonym for "interactive engagement" or "active learning" method. …

active learning


Guidelines for administering concept inventories online

February 10, 2016 by Adrian Madsen & Sam McKagan, PhysPort Assistant Director & Director

Concept inventories such as the Force Concept Inventory (FCI) have had a major impact on physics education reform: The FCI, a test of basic concepts of forces and acceleration, has been given to thousands of students throughout the country and the results show that PER-based teaching methods lead to dramatic improvements in students’ conceptual understanding of mechanics. These…

assessment,  concept inventories,  best practices


How can I get my students’ answers to concept inventories into electronic spreadsheets?

February 10, 2016 by Sam McKagan, PhysPort Director

If you are using multiple-choice concept inventories such as the FCI, BEMA, or CLASS to assess your students’ learning, the PhysPort Data Explorer can help you get instant analysis and visualization of your results. In order to use the Data Explorer, you’ll need to have your students’ responses in some kind of electronic spreadsheet, such as an Excel or .csv file.…

assessment,  concept inventories


How can I set up an effective mentoring program to support students in my department?

February 10, 2016 by Ramón S. Barthelemy

As physicists and physics educators we know that a physics education is much more than computational problem solving and bookwork. Knowledge and skills needed to navigate a career pathway in physics that are often learned informally include:
-the unspoken requirement to do undergraduate research
-the necessity to study for the physics GRE well in advance of the test date
-strong research lab...

mentoring,  best practices


What racial, gender, and sexual orientation bias still exists in physics and what can I do about it?

February 10, 2016 by Ramón S. Barthelemy

As physicists we often believe that our field is a place where anyone can succeed regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation. Although overt discrimination has decreased, many kinds of unintentional and intentional bias still run rampant. Fortunately, many of these biases are identifiable and there are actionable steps your department can take to prevent and address…

equity


How do I get my students to take concept inventories seriously?

January 12, 2016 by Adrian Madsen, PhysPort Assistant Director

Concept inventories are useful for assessing the effectiveness of your teaching, but only if your students take them seriously. You may be worried about how seriously your students are taking them. Here is what we know about students taking concept inventories seriously and some ideas for how you can encourage your students to do their best on these kinds of tests.
How seriously do…

assessment,  concept inventories