My busy summer should provide plenty of blog fodder

The world seems to have conspired to keep me delightfully busy this summer. Fortunately most of the activities that will be keeping me busy are well-suited to posting about on this blog. I will have to make a concentrated effort to find the time for blogging, but it does seem to always be worth the time even when I’m insanely busy (I must remember that!).

Fall courses

First up is that I will be teaching three third-year courses in the fall, all of which are new courses to me. These courses are

  • A computational physics course where I will be getting the students to learn the basics of python and Mathematica, but letting them choose which tool they want to use for the more advanced tasks.
  • A digital electronics course (lecture + lab = 2 courses) where I will be using Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) throughout the entire lab portion of the course to build upon the hand-wiring of individual components. This will be my first time using FPGAs.

I’m planning to run the lecture part of the course in the same way I run my usual “lecture” courses: pre-class assignments, whiteboarding and clickering during class time, weekly group quizzes, etc. I’m also trying to figure out how much I can integrate the lecture and lab into a more cohesive whole. The lecture and lab are co-requisite courses where the students receive separate final grades for each part so integrating them will prove to be a bit finicky.

I’m also gearing up to use some flavor of SBG in both the computational physics course and the digital lab. I will definitely be posting about the development for both of those in hopes of getting some feedback.

Conference presentations

I am delighted to have been invited to give a talk at FFPER-PS 2012. The FFPER conferences are my absolute favorite (I affectionately refer to them as Physics camp) so giving an invited talk there is extra special to me. I’m going to present on my work looking at the effectiveness of group quizzes. The main focus of my current analysis is trying to tease out the evidence or lack of evidence for learning that takes place on the group quizzes translating to success on similar questions at a later time, such as the final exam.  One of my summer students and I are trying to get through the analysis on this one as quickly as possible since my presentation is only a couple of weeks away.

I am also giving a short contributed talk at the summer AAPT meeting on the “kinder, gentler oral exams” that I used in my Advanced Lab course this past year. I will also be bookending the AAPT meeting with PERC and the Conference on Laboratory Instruction Beyond the First Year of College, but I decided that my plate was too full this summer to try to present anything at those despite the fact that I have some great stuff that I would like to contribute.


Stay tuned.

One Comment on “My busy summer should provide plenty of blog fodder”

  1. bretbenesh says:

    I am looking forward to reading more!

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