Our physics faculty members are passionate about teaching. Read about the approach each one of us takes on teaching!
My teaching is directly focused on the student experience. It is my intention when passing on our physics content that students can “see” and “feel” the material being discussed. When intuition guides learning, better understanding can be achieved when compared to memorization. So, it is my intent that all the material that I deliver becomes intuitive and makes sense when compared to their everyday experiences.
In the courses I teach I see myself in the role of a guide on a journey through the course material and to a greater overall growth in the understanding of how the Universe works. I’ve been through the course that the student is taking and made it through the other side. In more advanced classes we may actually encounter material that no one has quite figured out yet but we can still learn much by exploring the paths taken by physicists to get to where our understanding is now and how that relates to the physics we know. While on this journey I know that not all of us take the same paths but I’m confident that we can all reach the other side. With that in mind I use many different means of instruction from lectures and numerous demonstrations to guided problem solving and student exploration in a laboratory setting.
When teaching his classes, Dr. Greenwood usually likes to use a mixture of demonstration based lectures, problem solving sessions where he break up the class into groups and allow them to work on difficult problems together (peer learning sessions) while he goes around the classroom and answer questions, and multimedia presentations to illustrate ideas which cannot be demonstrated appropriately using drawings or demonstrations in class. The biggest mistake that many educators make is to have a single teaching philosophy which encompasses all possible learners. However, in reality, different learners have different expectations and needs when it comes to education. The most exciting thing about teaching is finding dynamic ways to reach different learners, while enhancing other learners’ understanding and experience at the same time.
Dr. Kloosterman is committed to the research-based constructivist teaching principle that people learn based on connecting new ideas to what they already know. This means that she works to help students connect prior knowledge of physics from high school and concepts presented in class to solve real world physics problems. Students are encouraged to share their questions and thoughts in class as discussion with others is key to learning. Assignments are designed to help students see connections across ideas and thus understand and apply the foundational principles of physics.
Dr. Deligkaris uses physics education research findings to make his courses as effective as possible. Students in his courses study the easy parts of the material prior to going to class so that class time can be invested in the more difficult problems and applications of the theory. Prior to class, on their own time, students watch Dr. Deligkaris’ instructional videos, interact with simulations that increase their understanding of the material. During class sessions, students often work in groups to solve problems collaboratively, further increasing their learning and collaborative skills at the same time! Dr. Deligkaris was also honored to receive the USI Foundation Outstanding Teaching by New Faculty.
When I approach teaching a class, my goal is that the students leave the class with a deeper understanding and appreciation for the subject and are prepared to use the material from the class as they continue their studies. To achieve this goal, I tailor my presentation of the material to each individual class, through classroom interaction, such as interactive problem solving and live demonstrations, and availability outside the classroom to help students individually and focus on their individual questions on the material. I encourage students to use me as a resource throughout the class and I am happy to take extra time to help a student succeed in the class.
Mr. Jeff Polak was a member of the Physics Education Research & Development group while in graduate school at North Carolina State University. He has been teaching here at USI since Fall 2012 and teaches lectures and labs for both introductory sequences as well as the Physics for Educators course. His work in both pedagogical and curricular reform significantly impacts his teaching approach. Mr. Polak’s classes are filled with student-centered and hands-on experiences that allow students to constantly engage with the course material. Problem-solving, conceptual understanding, and constantly building on just a few fundamental physics relationships are equally stressed in everything we do in the physics classroom. Mr. Polak’s position is purely instructional (and he likes it that way!) but his background in Physics Education Research allows physics majors with plans to teach at the secondary level to participate in small studies related to various aspects of physics teaching and learning.