Oral Interviews as Assessment

TL;DR I have begun using oral interviews as a replacement for traditional written tests and quizzes. There are many advantages for faculty and students, including elimination of paperwork, better chances for understanding students’ state of comprehension, a more relaxed environment, and no possibility for gaming for points. The ongoing pandemic has amplified many questions I […]

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Musical Thoughts On Teaching Physics

TL;DR There are many lessons physics teachers can learn from music teachers about teaching one’s discipline. Many, and perhaps most (all?), concepts in music have analogs in physics and mathematics. I have a background in music, spefically percussion. Marching band was my life in high school and that carried over into my college years. I […]

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Angular Quantities II

In this post, I will address the first question on the list in the previous post. What exactly does it mean for something to be a vector? In almost every introductory physics course, vectors are introduced as “quantities having magnitude and direction” and are eventually equated to graphical arrows. A vector is neither of these, […]

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Giving Students a Blank Check

Yesterday in my first semester astronomy class, I did something I’d previously threatened to do. I walked in, tossed my personal checkbook onto the floor in the middle of the room, and told students to write checks for any amount they felt appropriate in exchange for them becoming more engaged both in and out of […]

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Matter & Interactions II, Week 4

This week was entirely flipped in that class time was devoted to letting students do whatever they needed to do to practice with the material in chapters 13 and 14. Until now, no one has touched the WebAssign problem sets or much programming. In an administrative environment where “teaching” is defined as lecturing from a […]

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I believe…

I post this with the uncomfortable understanding that in my classes within the context of critical thinking, belief requires no evidence. Everything I say here is, to my knowledge, based on what I hope is good evidence. I will go where the evidence leads me. I intend to update this post frequently. Most of it […]

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Lunch With Three Former Students

This past Wednesday, I was invited to lunch with three former students. Two of these student took calculus-based physics with me; the third took first semester general astronomy with me. Of the first two, one (I will call him B) transferred to a nearby university after the first semester of physics and is majoring in […]

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Matter & Interactions I, Week 15

This week was a very short week, only two days, due to the Thanksgiving holiday. Furthermore, my instituion uses “flip days” and that took away one of the two days for my physics class. By the way, a “flip day” is a day on which the class schedule runs on another calendar day. In this […]

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