Phys V- EM & QMLocation: CSC 205 (CSC 205)
Special Reading Topics:
Graduate Seminar: Phd
Special Reading Topics:
- American Physical Society. 09/1990 - present. Position : Member.
I am an advocate for using peer instruction and flipped classrooms in undergraduate physics classes. These methodologies lead to fuller engagement of the students with a concomitant increase in retention of the material. They also lead to a more dynamic relationship between the lecturer and the audience, which is enjoyable for both students and the professor. I began using the “Peer Instruction” methodology several years ago after reading Peter Mazur’s book of the same title while teaching Honors Physics I & II at Rutgers University. This class had an enrollment of about 90 students and was designed for the best undergraduate students entering the university. The course was available by invitation only, with invitations coming through the Honors programs in both the School of Arts and Sciences and the School of Engineering. The students were all required to have personal response systems (iClickers), and I would pose questions during lectures to which the students would respond. Depending on the response, I would then have the students consult with each other in small groups (hence peer instruction) for several minutes before posing the same question again. The peer instruction portion allows students who both understand the correct answer and the misconceptions of their peers to correct those misconceptions in a more direct way than the professor ever could. I taught Honors Physics both with and without peer instruction; I found that with Peer Instruction, the students were much more engaged, got better test grades and enjoyed the class more.
Since coming to the University of Utah, I have been teaching Electronics I & II. Electronics I has an enrollment of 20–30 students, and I taught it at first as a traditional lecture course with a large laboratory component. While I tried implementing peer instruction during my second spell teaching the class, this was only marginally successful in engaging the students and improving the quality of the course. To remedy this situation, I moved beyond peer instruction this most recent time teaching the course to the “flipped classroom” methodology. In the flipped classroom, the lectures are prerecorded and the students are expected to watch the lectures before coming to class. In the standard flipped classroom, the face-toface time is used for problem solving sessions (the flipped classroom refers to doing homework in class and having the lecture at home), however, I used the lecture time to have extended peer instruction sessions using conceptual questions based on the lecture. This succeeded well, with a much higher level of student satisfaction with the course (as evidenced by student course feedback). It also allowed me as the instructor to gauge how well the students were really learning the material. Electronics II concentrates on data acquisition and is partly an introduction to LabVIEW programming. It has small enrollment, typically less than 10 students, so while I prepare a lecture for each class, there are many demonstrations and examples as well as ample time for discussions.
Courses I Teach
Electronics for Scientific Instrumentation
Electronics for data acquisition
Modern physics laboratory
Physics of the early 20th century
Classical Physics I
Classical Physics II
Introduction to Gravitation
Introduction to Einstein's theory of General Relativity, with numerical exercises.
Cosmic rays, TeV gamma rays, cosmology, dark matter, dark energy.
- Parameterization extension for Electron/Positron energy spectra and angular spectra in extensive air showers. Connor Houghton. 08/2018 - present
- Reconstruction of Cosmic Ray Geometry Using Cherenkov Backscattering . Matthew Dutson. 08/2017 - 12/2018
- Development of a Computational General Relativity Course for Undergraduates. Project Lead: Douglas Bergman. 05/2018 - 12/2018. Total Budget: $0.00.
Small Group Teaching
- Cosmic Ray Physics. 01/09/2017 - present