Dr. Steven J. Pollock
Dr. Steven Pollock is a professor of Physics at the University of Colorado Boulder. His Ph.D. is in theoretical Nuclear Physics from Stanford University. He is a Pew/Carnegie teaching scholar, a University of Colorado (CU) president's teaching scholar, and the 2013 Carnegie US Professor of the year. His current research is in the field of PER (Physics Education), investigating student learning in large and small scale physics classes, and the constraints and opportunities involved in replicating "proven" curricular practice, as well as extending educational models to the upper division. He has implemented and studied "Tutorials in Introductory Physics" at CU, along with supporting and investigating Teaching and Learning Assistants' pedagogical development. He has been described by his students as a human electron.
Understanding Educational Reforms: Impacts of Physics Education Research
Using physics education research as a catalyst, Dr. Steven Pollock will talk about student engagement, curriculum reform, and transfer of innovations across institutions, among other issues.
Physics education research (PER) has resulted in new materials, approaches to teaching, and theoretical understanding of student learning in physics. PER has influenced practices in introductory physics courses, impacting tens of thousands of students, and a growing number of current and future teachers. While the field has demonstrated positive effects in many instances, remarkably little work has gone into understanding how research-based educational reforms are replicated and sustained. This talk will discuss some of the data we have collected at CU Boulder over the past dozen years, investigating transfer of innovations across institutions, and among our own courses - including moves into the upper-division - and the resulting impacts on students over time. Such data provide a base from which educators can make informed decisions about difficult choices in technology, curriculum, methods, and resource allocation.
A Research-validated Approach to Transforming Upper-division Physics Courses
Dr. Steven Pollock will give two talks during his visits at OU. Beside the Keynote Speech on TSI, he will also provide a talk specific to audience who is interested in the development and improvement of upper division courses:
Thursday, October 30, 2014
4:00 – 5:00 pm
Location: Nielsen Hall, Room 170
Departmental tea and cookies starting at 3:30 in the Physics Building Atrium
Abstract: At most universities, including the University of Colorado, upper-division physics courses are taught using a traditional lecture approach that does not make use of many of the instructional techniques that have been found to improve student learning at the introductory level. We are transforming upper-division courses (E&M, quantum, and Classical Mechanics) using principles of active engagement and learning theory, guided by the results of observations, interviews, and analysis of student work at CU and elsewhere. I will outline these reforms including consensus learning goals, clicker questions, tutorials, modified homework, and more, as an example of what a transformed upper-division course can look like, and as a tool to offer insights into student difficulties in advanced undergraduate topics. We have examined the effectiveness of these reforms relative to traditional courses, based on grades, interviews, and attitudinal and conceptual surveys. Our results suggest that it is valuable to further investigate how physics is taught at the upper-division, and how education research may be applied in this context.