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My tentative schedule for AAPT Sunday and Monday

July 25, 2012

I’ve tried to list all of the sessions I’m thinking about going to, even if they conflict. As the conference gets closer, I’ll try to indicate what I’m actually attending.

Sunday, July 29

  • 8am-5pm: Computation in the Modeling Curriculum: This is a workshop I’m helping to run, along with many of the great people from Georgia Tech’s PER group. We’ll be showing folks how to use computational modeling in VPython with a few of the traditional modeling units. Unfortunately, the workshop is completely full.
  • 6pm: Matter and Interactions meet up: City Tap: Danny Caballero is organizing a meet up for instructors who are using (or are just fans) of the Matter and Interactions physics textbook. Here’s my review of the book. Contact Danny if you’re interested in being added to the reservation.

Monday, July 30

  • 8:30AM-9:00AM: (AI01) Scientific Reasoning Can Affect Learning in the Conceptual Physics Classroom by James Moore

    College students not in science, technology, engineering and/or mathematics (STEM) majors enter the physics classroom with dramatically different motivations, perspectives, and preparations in comparison to their STEM colleagues. This dramatic difference in student population may necessitate a completely different approach to instruction. In this talk, we will discuss the scientific reasoning abilities of the average non-STEM student, how preparation in reasoning impacts potential gains in content knowledge, and the implications for instruction in the conceptual physics classroom. Specifically, non-STEM students demonstrate significant difficulty with proportional and hypothetico-deductive reasoning, and struggle to demonstrate learning gains in abstract content lacking directly observable exemplars (such as force and energy). The growing body of research demonstrates that development of scientific reasoning requires explicit intervention, and we present some preliminary results with taking an explicit approach. We also will discuss the potential need for a reassessment of the canonical sequence of topics in conceptual physics.

  • 8:30AM-10AM: (AB) The Good and the Bad of Video Lectures (Panel)

    (This is going to be a must-attend event. Frank Noschese, Andy Rundquest and Noah Podolefsky.)

    Affordable and high-quality video cameras and user-friendly screen-castingsoftware have made it possible to create professional looking lecture videos. A highly visible example of such videos is the Khan Academy ( In the public press and, often, at our own institutions, the utility of these video lectures are debated. Proponents argue there is significantly lower cost associated with producing and archiving these videos when compared to traditional instruction. Others couple these videos to traditional instruction in a “flipped classroom” environment. Still others contend that these videos make it too easy to forego more active engagement (e.g., inquiry). This panel discussion (discussants: Frank Noschese, Noah Podolefsky, and Andy Rundquist) aims to provide attendees with information about this new mechanism for content delivery. A 30 minute wrap-up/open discussion will be held after discussants have been presented their views. This session will be video recorded and remotely accessible.

  • 9:00AM – 9:30AM: (AH02) Challenging Traditional Assumptions of Secondary Science through the PET Curriculum by Mike Ross

    This physics education research examines the role of high school students’ participation, positioning, and views of themselves in relation to physics learning. Two classes of students traditionally underrepresented in physics were observed and interviewed in an urban high school using the Physics and Everyday Thinking (PET) curriculum. In the PET classroom, students collect and analyze data to produce, and come to consensus on, the ideas that are the targets for instruction. Findings indicate that students came to value and positively identify with the activities of physics through instruction that fosters a more dignified student experience than traditional approaches. Using the methodology of participant observation, we offer convincing evidence that students’ motivation and positive relationships with physics are attributable to the positioning of students as valued contributors to the learning community. Inferences were made about essential elements of a “critical science curriculum,” and implications for curriculum development will be discussed.

  • 10:10AM – 10:20AM: (AA05) Kinder, gentler oral exams by Joss Ives

    (A presentation by a GPD member which should be excellent.)

    Oral exams can provide effective assessment of student understanding of theoretical, analysis and experimental details in upper-division labs. Unfortunately the most common implementation involves putting students “on-the-spot” by asking them to put together coherent explanations moments after being asked a question. This talk will discuss some modifications that I have made to address some of the aspects that I found to be the most intimidating and challenging when I was assessed using oral exams during my career as a student. The primary modification used to create my kinder, gentler oral exams was to present the student with three questions and then allow them to have some time to collect their thoughts as well as consult their resources before the formal part of the assessment was started.

  • 10:00AM – 10:10AM (AA04) Hands-on Performance Assessments for Electronics by Melissa Eblen-Zayas

    Lab notebooks, oral presentations, and formal write-ups are often used to evaluate lab work, but these assessments fall short in evaluating some of aspects of students’ ability to do hands-on work, including troubleshooting. I will discuss the hands-on performance assessment that I used in my upper-level electronics course, which asks students to make predictions about the response of a circuit and then requires students to build the circuit to test their predictions. In addition to reviewing the benefits and drawbacks of this type of assessment, I will also discuss student opinions about the hands-on performance assessments.

  • 12:15PM – 1:15PM: Crackerbarrel – Vidshare: Motivating and Elucidating Short Videos You Can Use!
  • 12:15PM – 1:15PM: Crackerbarrel: Physics and Society

  • 3:10PM-4:10pm: Informal Gathering on Physics First. Sharaton, Ben Franklin 1.

  • 4:00PM – 4:30PM: (BE02) Advanced Video Analysis for Student Research by Aaron Titus

    Undergraduate research can be defined as students asking interesting questions and finding answers to those questions. Video analysis is one of the most economical and effective experimental techniques to enable students to do undergraduate research, starting with introductory physics and continuing to upper-level physics. Particular features of Tracker–a free cross-platform, open-source video analysis application–allow students to easily change reference frames, compensate for panning and zooming of a camera, auto-track objects, and test a numerical model. Exemplary student projects from various schools will be demonstrated, including research projects from first-year to fourth-year physics students. If you want to hook students on the excitement of independent discovery with a budget of $300 or less (for a camera), then video analysis is for you.

  • 4:30PM – 5:00PM: (BC03) Framing, Epistemology, and All That Jazz: Why it Matters by Edward Redish

    Three decades of Physics Education Research (PER) have convinced many teachers that their students may “bring misconceptions” to class that can be difficult to overcome. But many do not realize that in the past dozen years, PER has documented that sometimes students’ difficulties are not about “getting the physical principles wrong,” but rather about misinterpreting the nature of the knowledge they are learning and what they are supposed to do to learn it. I refer to these as “epistemological misconceptions.” They can affect student responses in subtle ways through dynamic framing of the task at hand — students’ judgment about “what’s going on here” and what knowledge it is appropriate to bring to bear. Sometimes these framings are labile and easily changed; in other cases they are robust and need serious pedagogical effort. I will give examples occurring across the curriculum and suggest some ways of dealing with these issues.

  • 5:30pm: Tweetup dinner. Location TBD. Let me know if you’re interested in joining.
  • 7:00PM-9:00PM: Can computational modeling be accessible to introductory students?

    This is a session I’m moderating. It should be excellent. We’ll hear talks from a Phil Wagner, Mark Hammond, Shawn Weatherford, Brandon Lunch and Michael Vineyard about using computational modeling with introductory level students.

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