motivating students in introductory physics

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Recording date: 10/24/13 Presenter: Deb Katz In this webinar, we will discuss the characteristics of highly motivated students and what we can do to motivate our introductory physics students. Students in a lion-taming course are highly motivated to learn due to the course’s immediate relevance. The course is no-longer just a hoop the student must jump through in order to earn a college degree or meet a prerequisite, but a relevant and applicable lesson to ensure success in the student’s future. Watch Deb Katz, Physics Professor at the United States Naval Academy webinar, to learn how she creates immediate relevance in her course to motivate and engage students to succeed in her course and throughout their education.


  • 1. Debora M. Katz Physics Department United States Naval Academy

2. Agenda Student Challenges Motivating Students Using Case Studies Questions/Closing Remarks 3. Student Challenges Do you believe your studentscomplete most of the assigned textbook reading & homework? Why dont students honestly do the assigned reading and homework? 4. Lion-taming class For a moment imagine that you are a lion-taming instructor. At the end of a 16-week semester, each of your students takes a final exam, in which each student places his or her own head into the mouth of a live lion. 5. Question Why will students in a lion-taming class do all the work assigned by their instructor? 6. Characteristics of a Motivated Student Sees relevance of course and wants to learn And so completes assignments honestly 7. Question What do you use to motivate your introductory physics students? (Describe what you have tried that works and also include things that havent worked as well as you would have liked.) 8. Case Studies Case studies are traditionally used in medical, business and law schools. 9. Case Studies A student working through a case study is in the role of practitioner. Like a practitioner, the student is motivated to learn and sees the relevance of the subject matter. 10. Case Studies Case studies are educational exercises. When a student works on a case study, we expect the highest levels of thinking, reasoning, problem-solving and communication. 11. Case Studies A case study makes your physics class relevant and fun because it connects physics concepts to students interests history of scientific discovery practical applications 12. How I Use Case Studies 1. Short case studies are used in lectures to motivate students and flush out preconceptions Example: Train collision 13. Excerpt from my book. 14. How I Use Case Studies 2. A case study may be used in much the same way as an in-class group problem or project. However, the students are motivated to solve the problem because the case is part of a story. So I may revisit the train collision in the next lesson 15. How I Use Case Studies 3. Students in my class write their own case studies as a term project. Create and solve a problem that comes from the material covered in SP212. The problem can include material from any part of this semesters syllabus and that it should be solvable by a typical student in this class. Your project will be graded on creativity, research, difficulty and solution. Students are highly motivated to solve these deep problems because the problems come from their own interest. 16. Sample Term Projects 1.Hike till it hurts 2.Mom can I go? 3.Skateboarding accident 17. Student Response Professor Katz, I am really glad you enjoyed my project! It's one of the few things I did right in the many technical courses here at the Academy lol I really did love doing it and I hope your students have enjoyed working on their projects also! I am sorry you cannot make it but hopefully some people from your department will be able to go. I hope all is well! You are a great teacher and your students are lucky to have you as a Professor! Very Respectfully, Michelle 18. Thank you! Follow-up Survey Webinar Feedback Development Activities Volume I Class Testing (Spring 2014)Debora Katz: Nicole (Mollica)


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