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Abstract Title: Conceptual Issues and Content Revisions in the Introductory Physics Course for Life Science Students
Abstract: The introductory physics for life science (IPLS) course presents an exciting, but challenging, opportunity to make physics an integral part of the professional development of biologists and health professions.  Helping students develop physics perspectives and habits of minds (e.g. quantitative modeling) is essential, as well as focusing on physics content most relevant to biologists. Therefore, work in this area has focused on designing curriculum that includes authentic biological problems, promotes interdisciplinary scientific thinking, and builds coherence between physics and biology.  These new pedagogical perspectives then must be joined with the already existing models of student learning for a comprehensive framework.    The demands of this course are giving rise to the development of new theoretical frameworks, research-based transformations, and assessments.  In this session, this PER work from diverse institutions will be presented, followed by discussion to explore common and divergent theoretical bases for curricular choices, pedagogies, and research strategies.
Abstract Type: Talk Symposium

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Nancy Beverly
Mercy College
School of Health and Natural Sciences
555 Broadway
Dobbs Ferry, NY 10522
Phone: 914-674-7275
and Co-Presenter(s)
Dawn Meredith, University of New Hampshire

Symposium Specific Information

Moderator: Nancy Beverly
Presentation 1 Title: Authenticity as a Lens for UMD's NEXUS/Physics IPLS Course
Presentation 1 Authors: Kim Moore* and Deborah Hemingway`
*Department of Physics, University of Maryland
`Biophysics Program, University of Maryland
Presentation 1 Abstract: Life Science students in required Introductory Physics courses pose an intriguing challenge to the PER community.  This talk explores UMD's response to the pedagogical issues of and content revisions needed in IPLS courses, as life science students often are resistant to and question the biological relevance and authenticity of the subject matter.  To address this student response, we advocate for the creation of course revisions built on a theoretical framework that encompasses biological authenticity; authentic scientific practice; student-centered, active learning; and attention to affect--all coupled to iterative revision with experience.  We do this through a discussion of how prior and current PER work can be used to form a theoretical framework for content revision and course development, providing both existing illustrative examples from the UMD NEXUS/Physics project (www.nexusphysics.umd.edu) and newly-developed examples from the Understanding and Overcoming Barriers to Using Mathematics in Science project as context. 
Presentation 2 Title: Assessment of a multimedia IPLS course
Presentation 2 Authors: Ralf Widenhorn*, Elliot Mylott*, Warren Christensen**
* Portland State University
** North Dakota State University
Presentation 2 Abstract: We will present the preliminary results of an assessment of student attitudes toward an introductory course for pre-health students that focuses on the physics of biomedical technologies. The course follows a partially flipped classroom model and incorporates multimedia elements including video interviews with biomedical experts, an online homework system, and original texts. Student attitudes were measured using the Colorado Learning Attitudes about Science Survey, additional survey questions specific to the course, and student interviews. Students' conceptual understanding of the physics material and its application in biomedical technology was also assessed. The results of the IPLS course will be compared to those of the traditional course, which was taught concurrently and covered similar physical concepts.
This work was supported by grants (DUE-1141078 and DUE-1431447) from the National Science Foundation.
Presentation 3 Title: The Need For New Instruments:  Assessing Interdisciplinary Thinking
Presentation 3 Authors: Authors: K. K. Mashood , Vashti Sawtelle, Charles W. Anderson, Rebecca L. Matz, Emily E. Scott, Sonia M. Underwood
Michigan State University
Presentation 3 Abstract: Interdisciplinary thinking and reconciliation is integral to developing a coherent understanding of science. Significant research has gone into addressing this problem, particularly in the context of biology and physics. Projects like NEXUS resulted in the development of courses and materials that are meaningful to students across the disciplines and can serve as prototypes for similar endeavors. The development of these research-based courses has created a need for new assessment tools. We outline the preliminary stages of development of an instrument to assess how students connect essential ideas across introductory science disciplines and how students expect the disciplines to relate. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 12 biology majors enrolled in a physics course. The students were asked to explain everyday interdisciplinary phenomena as well as to describe their attitudes toward different disciplines and making connections between them. An analysis of these interviews is a first step toward developing a framework for an interdisciplinary assessment.
Presentation 4 Title: The source of student engagement in IPLS
Presentation 4 Authors: Benjamin D. Geller*, Chandra Turpen', Catherine H. Crouch*

*Swarthmore College
'Department of Physics, University of Maryland
Presentation 4 Abstract: Effectively teaching an Introductory Physics for the Life Sciences (IPLS) course means engaging life science students in a subject matter for which they may not have considerable preexisting interest. While we have found that the inclusion of topical examples of relevance to life-science students can help to engage students whose initial interest in physics is less developed, we have found that the inclusion of biological content is just one of several dimensions supporting student engagement in IPLS. When describing what is salient to them about their IPLS experiences, students are just as quick to cite particular pedagogical structures and supports as they are to cite issues relating directly to content choices. In this talk we begin to unpack this complex interplay of content and pedagogy in fostering student engagement in the IPLS classroom. We also describe the role that explicit messaging around disciplinary coherence may play in students' experiences.
Presentation 5 Title: Examining the implementation of a new IPLS course at UNC-CH*
Presentation 5 Authors: Alice D. Churukian, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Duane L. Deardorff, David P. Smith, Colin S. Wallace, Laurie E. McNeil, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Presentation 5 Abstract: At the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, we have completed the implementation of our redesigned introductory physics course for life science (IPLS) majors. The new course aligns introductory physics concepts with authentic biological applications. We were influenced by cognitive theories of learning to reform the pedagogy to confront or build upon students' prior knowledge and intuitions in order to develop more expert-like understandings. This reformed pedagogy, implemented in the lecture/studio format [1,2], fosters student participation and enculturation into the practices of the discipline, as advocated by situated models of learning. We will present data on the effectiveness of this course, including results from well-known concept inventories such as the FCI and CSEM, and student performance on exam questions. We will make comparisons to data collected prior to the course transformation and present a review of student survey data, C-LASS results, and comments from faculty teaching the course.

1. C.M. Sorensen, A.D. Churukian, S. Maleki, and D.A. Zollman, "The New Studio format for instruction of introductory physics," Am. J. Phys. 74, 1077-1082 (2006).
2. T. Furtak and T. Ohno, "Installing studio physics," Phys. Teach. 39, 11-15 (2001).

*This work has been supported in part by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. DUE-1323008.