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Member of

Living Physics Portal Team

Contributing to the Portal, Summer 2020

Contributing to the Portal Working Group


Mary Chessey

Pedagogical Methods Used

Peer Instruction / Think-Pair-Share, Collaborative problem-solving, Conceptually-oriented activities, Ranking tasks, SCALE-UP / studio / workshop physics, Modeling Instruction

Life Sciences Focus

Energy conservation while bonds are made and broken, Lennard-Jones potential, analogies between fluid flow and electric circuits, exponential decay related to capacitors and osmosis, geometric optics applied to corrective lenses for focused vision, entropy related to highly ordered biological systems, thermodynamic processes and free energy

Education Research and Pedagogy Expertise

Classroom equity and critical pedagogy (amateur with some training and trying real hard), ethnographic methods for education research with transfer students (PhD in physics from University of California, Davis 2018), quantitative Assessment and Measurement especially test bias (M.A. degree in Education from UC Davis 2017), active learning strategies using guided discussion in classes of 30 students in small groups, effective use of mid-semester evaluations to re-direct your class based on student comments

Years teaching physics for life sciences


Describe the courses that you teach for life sciences students

(#1) University of California, Davis - Physics 7 / "CLASP": large lecture for 100 students 1.5 hr/wk, Discussion/Lab 5 hr/wk for 30 students each, calculus-based conceptual introductory college physics relying heavily on models and focusing on energy conservation, fluid flow, circuits, kinematics (#2) University of Maryland College Park - Physics 132 / "NEXUS": large lecture for 150 students 3 hr/wk, Discussion/Lab 3 hr/wk for 24 students each, calculus-based conceptual introductory college physics, focusing on thermodynamics and statistical mechanics, electricity, optics, and models of light

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

to emphasize the importance of improvement over time by offering credit for corrected work, to approach every topic using as many different representations as possible (equations, plots, illustrations, written and spoken words), to use a variety of modes of interaction and assessment, and to pursue a better understanding for myself of classroom issues related to racism and other forms of oppression and marginalization

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