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Physics Professors Learn New Lessons at UC Blue Ash College

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More than 20 physics professors from across the U.S. recently visited the University of Cincinnati Blue Ash College to learn how to really engage their students when teaching them about kinetic energy or the laws of thermodynamics.

The college hosted the New Faculty Experience (NFE) Commencement Conference for the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) from July 21–23. The purpose was to help newer physics professors explore research-based instructional strategies (RBIS) that help effectively teach physics and astronomy, which can be very complex for some students.

Dr. Robin Lightner, Interim Dean at UC Blue Ash College, presenting to the guest professors.

Dr. Robin Lightner, Interim Dean at UC Blue Ash College, welcoming the guest professors.

Krista Wood is a physics professor who has taught for 15 years at UC Blue Ash and who served as host of the conference. She has participated in sustained professional development through AAPT that includes workshops on research and strategies for teaching physics at the collegiate level.

“I am very passionate about finding effective ways for students to learn physics. When I first began teaching, I realized some students didn’t demonstrate a solid understanding of the concepts by the end of our course,” says Wood. “I’ve conducted a lot of research on effective teaching practices and I’ve realized it’s not about me. I’ve changed my focus from teaching to student learning. Instead of covering material I’m finding ways to guide students to discover the concepts of physics.”

Wood says the change involves finding interactive ways to engage students and listening to their thinking and reasoning to better shape their learning. One example is using whiteboards for small group work, where students lead the discussions and the instructor is a guide, asking clarifying questions where needed and pushing the group to develop new ideas that they bring to the discussion with the whole class.

Professor Wood’s approach is consistent with faculty members across UC Blue Ash. While they are active in conducting, presenting and publishing research in their field, they are also dedicated to learning and sharing the most effective ways to help students understand a topic and get the most out of a course.

About UC Blue Ash College

UC Blue Ash College is a regional college within the University of Cincinnati. It offers one of the best values in higher education with access to a nationally recognized UC education in nearly 50 degrees and certificates, as well as tuition that is about half of most colleges and universities. The college is located on a scenic 135-acre wooded campus in the heart of Blue Ash, Ohio.