Renowned researcher and professor of physics Steven Pollock from CU Boulder visits the department to collaborate and tell of his odyssey in physics education.
Gina Passante is co-PI with Steve on a three year NSF grant to develop materials for peer instruction in upper-division quantum and to measure its success and limits on student understanding. Their program is much akin to Mike Loverude's longtime and widely aclaimed efforts to introduce peer instruction in upper-division thermodynamics and math courses.
In the first week of his two-week October 2017 visit, Steve held a workshop, as part of the Catalyst Center series, on classroom peer instruction generally—introducing a question cycle into traditional lecture formats then demonstrating the success and limits of student understanding. The workshop was aimed at science lectures generally and attended by faculty and students from across the college.
On the last day of his visit, Steve gave a department colloquium on the peer instruction cycle specifically and what constitutes an effective question that will prompt student discussion and motivate them to engage. Steve definitely engaged us and left us with little doubt of the merits of the question cycle as an effective component of traditional lecture—the statistical comparisons are astounding!
Thank you Professor Pollock for an engaging and informative visit!