Resources and community for teaching physics for life sciences

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Laurie McNeil

Pedagogical Methods Used

Peer Instruction / Think-Pair-Share, Collaborative problem-solving, Conceptually-oriented activities, Context-rich problems, Ranking tasks, Guided inquiry, SCALE-UP / studio / workshop physics, Tutorials, Just-in-time Teaching

Life Sciences Focus

I helped design, and intermittently teach, our two-semester introductory sequence of physics for life science majors.

Education Research and Pedagogy Expertise

I am not a PER person, but I make extensive use of techniques developed and validated through that research. I have led teams for course redesign to incorporate such techniques.

Years teaching physics for life sciences

5

Describe the courses that you teach for life sciences students

Our introductory sequence for life science students is taught in lecture/studio mode. Each module (27 per semester) begins with a reading assignment and short quiz (JiTT) to prepare for an interactive lecture (PI/TPS). This is followed by a two-hour studio in which students work in groups on tutorials, mini experiments, conceptual tasks, collaborative problem solving, context-rich problems, ranking tasks, etc. A homework assignment of end-of-chapter problems completes the module.

What is your approach to teaching physics for life science students?

We focus our courses on physics topics with direct relevance to the life sciences, with students utilizing authentic biology data to explore concepts. The courses are "calculus lite," and incorporate simple numerical integration. The emphasis is on sense-making.

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CONTRIBUTIONS


PALS Mathematical Models

In-class activity, Lab, Instructor supplement, Restricted access, Pre-class assignment
Vetted

Tutorial investigating math functions to describe 2-variable relationships in a biological context.

Bacteria, Animal Cardiovascular, Scales

None

+ 5

Alice Churukian

Colin Wallace

+ 5 more

PALS Breathing Worms

In-class activity, Lab, Instructor supplement, Restricted access, Pre-class assignment
Vetted

Activity exploring the scaling of surface area and volume of worms.

Surface Area/volume

None

+ 4

Alice Churukian

Colin Wallace

+ 4 more

PALS Geometrical Optics Pertaining to Vision

Instructor supplement, Restricted access, In-class activity, Lab, Pre-class assignment
Vetted

student-centered module with experiments, tutorials and questions on vision and corrective lenses

Vision Impairments, Optometry

Thin Lens, Optical Instruments

+ 5

Alice Churukian

Colin Wallace

+ 5 more

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