Learning About Teaching Physics Podcasts

posted July 9, 2012 and revised July 10, 2022
by Michael Fuchs and Stephanie Chasteen

Nuggets from the education research that you can use in class tomorrow. We're getting the physics education research out of those stuffy journals and into your hands (or, rather, ears) with this little audio podcast. Co-hosted by veteran high school physics teacher Michael Fuchs and physicist and education researcher Stephanie Chasteen, each episode investigates a piece of the research literature and how it can relate to your classroom.

This podcast is supported by a grant from the American Association of Physics Teachers (Physics Education Research Topical Group) and supported by the University of Colorado's Science Education Initiative, the Physics Education Research Group at the University of Colorado and sciencegeekgirl enterprises.

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Preparing Students to Learn from Lecture: Creating a "Time for Telling"

If interactive classrooms are the best way for students to learn, then is it bad to tell things to students? Not necessarily. In this podcast, we hear from researchers and instructors how we might prepare students to learn effectively from lecture.

Thanks to Daniel Schwartz of Stanford University, Doug Bonn and Jessica Lamb of the University of British Columbia, and Corinne Manogue of Oregon State University.

Studies Cited

Teaching Standard Deviation by Building from Student Invention, James Day, Hiroko Nakahara and Doug Bonn. The Physics Teacher, 48(8), p. 546. (2010)

A Time for Telling, Daniel Schwartz and John Bransford, Cognition and Instruction, 16(4), 475-522 (1998).

Productive Failure in Mathematical Problem Solving, Manu Kapur, Instructional Science, 6, pp 523-550 (2010).


Today's music was licensed under the Creative Commons:

  • DC 3000 by the Thievery Corporation
  • Funkorama, Brandenburg Concerto No. 4, and Vision of Persistence by Kevin McLeod (http://incompetech.org/)
  • Sound effects by SFX Bible on Soundsnap.
Other Resources

Schwartz studies on transfer, invention activities, and contrasting cases can be referenced on his website. Several of his instructional worksheets are online.

Some invention activities for biology, following Dan Schwartz's model, can be found here. And here is a “teaching expert thinking” summary of Dan Schwartz’s work on expert vs. novice thinking and invention tasks.

For more activities from Corinne Manogue's Paradigms project at Oregon State, visit their website.

Length: 21:00 Size: 17.3Mb Date: July 9, 2012 Download Play


Visual, verbal, or auditory? The truth behind the myth behind the truth of learning styles.

Are you a visual learner or an auditory learner? I bet you can tell me which you think you are. But does it matter? In this podcast, we discuss the research on individual learning styles, and how science learning requires us to blend the visual and the verbal.

Thanks to Hal Pashler of UC San Diego and Richard Mayer of UC Santa Barbara for their participation in this podcast.

Studies Cited

"Learning Styles: Concepts and Evidence," H. Pashler, M. Mcdaniel, D. Rohrer and R. Bjork, Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 9, 105-119 (2009)

Testing the ATI hypothesis: Should multimedia instruction accommodate verbalizer-visualizer cognitive style? Laura J. Massa and Richard E. Mayer, Learning and Individual Differences, 16, 321-335 (2006)


Today's music was licensed under the Creative Commons:

  • DC 3000 by the Thievery Corporation
  • Nervously Made by Ian Nelson
  • Whadidyasay by Zap Mama
  • Scheming Weasel and Firmament by Kevin McLeod (http://incompetech.org)
  • Sound effects by Stuart Duffield, Blastwave FX, Andrew Potterton, and Sampleconstruct via Soundsnap.

The blog post discussed at the beginning of the show was from Office Zealot.

Other Resources

"Think you're an auditory or visual learner? Scientists say it's unlikely", Morning Edition, National Public Radio (August 29, 2011)

Length: 15:19 Size: 12.4 Mb Date: Nov 22, 2011 Download Play


The Art (and Science) of In-Class Questioning via Clickers

Are "clickers" or "personal response systems" just the latest fad in education? Or is there solid research behind their use? In this episode we share some recent studies that really highlight how clickers can be used most effectively, and how they can save the world!

Thanks to Eric Mazur of Harvard University, Jenny Knight of University of Colorado at Boulder, and Ed Prather of the University of Arizona for their participation in this podcast.

Studies Cited

Studies cited were:

  1. Why Peer Discussion Improves Student Performance on In-Class Concept Questions, Michelle Smith, William Wood, Wendy Adams, Carl Wieman, Jenny Knight, Nancy Guild, and Tin Tin Su, Science, Vol. 323 no. 5910, pp. 122-124 (2009).
  2. Combining Peer Discussion with Instructor Explanation Increases Student Learning from In-Class Concept Questions, Michelle Smith, William Wood, K. Krauter, and Jenny Knight. CBE - Life Sciences Education, 10, 55-63 (2011).
  3. Listening to student conversations during clicker questions: What you have not heard might surprise you!, Mark James and Shannon Willoughby, AM. J. Phys., 79(1), 123-133 (2011).
  4. Technology talks: Clickers and grading incentive in the large lecture hall, Shannon D. Willoughby and Eric Gustafson, AM. J. Phys., 77(2), 180 (2009).


Today's music was:

  • DC 3000 by the Thievery Corporation (Creative Commons)
  • Funkorama, Firmament and Rumination by Kevin McLeod
  • Sunshine by Mark Crawford
  • Sound effects by audiofruit, SFX Bible, Rebecca Parnell and SFX Source, on Soundsnap.

Other Resources

There are a wide variety of instructor resources on clicker use available at STEMclickers.colorado.edu, including videos, literature, and an instructor's guide.

Ed Prather's version of Peer Instruction is called Think Pair Share.

Books include:

Length: 15:34 Size: 12.7 Mb Date: July 16, 2011 Download Play


Seeing isn't believing: Do classroom demonstrations help students learn?

Physics is the study of nature. So, physics classes typically include demonstrations of how those laws of nature play out, often in surprising ways. But do students see what we intend them to see? In this episode, we find out what the research says about classroom demos, and how to help students get the most out of them.

Thanks to Eric Mazur of Harvard University and Catherine Crouch of Swarthmore College for their participation in this podcast.

Studies Cited

Study cited in this episode: Classroom demonstrations: Learning tools or entertainment? Catherine H. Crouch, Adam P. Fagen, J. Paul Callan, and Eric Mazur, American Journal of Physics, 72 (6), 835 - 838 (2004). Andrew Fagen's more detailed thesis can be found here.


  • Audio of Mazur's talk at Harvard provided by the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics' Science Media Group.
  • Audio of Shoot the Monkey from Science Theater
  • Show music: "DC 3000" by the Thievery Corporation, "Watidori" by Cornelius, "Action at a Distance" by Matmos, and Mesa State by Mark Crawford. All music is licensed under the Creative Commons except for music by Mark Crawford.
  • Coin on water image from Roger McLassus on Wikimedia

Other Resources

Below is the image of the scale demonstration described in the podcast:

Length: 18:12 Size: 14.8 Mb Date: May 17, 2011 Download Play


If you would like to give feedback or provide a recommendation, please contact Stephanie Chasteen.

This article is licensed under a Creative Commons License