I definitely believe that there is a perception of what a scientist is/looks-like in the cultural zeitgeist. I also believe that this image bears little resemblance to many of the scientists that I know. The This is what a Scientist Looks Like project is out to help correct this difference. I encourage you all to take a look!
This semester, Brokk Toggerson has been nominated for the UMass distinguished teaching award for the second year in a row. The distinguished teaching award is only awarded to one faculty member each year, can only be won once in a lifetime, and is the only teaching award at UMass for which students are the only possible nominators. Heath Hatch, another of the P131 team, has already won this award.
As we wrap up another semester, I am, as is usual for this time of year, thinking about what went wrong and what went right this past semester. I will say that a lot of things have gone very well this semester. My students have exceeded my expectations which is a great feeling. I have even checked with colleagues to see that my expectations have not been slowly changing to “easier” over time. Now, if I could just figure out what we did right so we could replicate it…
One thing that continues to be at the forefront of teaching in a class of 6 sections, 3 instructors, 16 graduate-student TAs, 2 undergraduate graders, 1 undergraduate Supplemental Instruction leader, and 2 undergraduate ExSEL program tutors is keeping everyone on the same page and focused on the same goal – all while not micromanaging.
One of the reasons that I love this work is that I am continually learning. My students are always forcing me to thing about physics more deeply and in new ways. In the past few weeks, I have come to a new way of articulating what all I am expecting my students to learn in my class. I do not claim that these ideas are in any way new; I am simply articulating these ideas for myself. In this paradigm, there are at least three aspects of learning physics: