Article Index


"The Evolution of Introductory Physics at the University of Illinois," Friday, November 8, 12n, MH 606

Mats Selen, University of Illinois


About 17 years ago we significantly changed the way we taught intro physics at UIUC. The innovation, which is hindsight seems almost trivial, was to define these courses in terms of their content and associated infrastructure rather than in terms of the faculty assigned to teach them. Having our courses rest on a solid departmental foundation rather than on the shoulders of faculty means that faculty have the time and freedom to innovate, making incremental yet significant improvements to these courses over time. In this talk I will discuss this evolution as well as several of the resulting innovations, including prelectures, just in time teaching, peer instruction, and a new approach to labs.
Bio (I forget if you asked for this – if not then please ignore it):
Mats earned B.Sc.('82) and M.Sc.('83) degrees in physics at the University of Guelph, and M.A.('85) and Ph.D.('89) degrees in particle physics at Princeton University. After a four year post-doc at Cornell he joined the faculty at the University of Illinois in 1993 where he has been ever since. After 25 years of studying elementary particles he is shifting his research focus to understanding and improving the way students learn physics. With Illinois colleagues he developed the iclicker classroom response system, the smartPhysics learning framework, and most recently IOLab. On Wednesday mornings he brings science to central Illinois viewers as the WCIA "WhysGuy".