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Abstract Title: Teaching Physics to Life Science Students – Examining The Role of Biological Context
Abstract: In the cognitive apprenticeship model, learning occurs most effectively in an environment of expert practice, in which students can articulate why what they are learning matters to them. Studies of transfer suggest that for students to successfully apply physics to another scientific field, it is important to study applications to that field.  Guided by this theoretical framework, we restructured our introductory physics courses for life science and premedical students around biologically rich contexts -- examples in which physics plays a significant role in understanding a biological system -- to make explicit the value of physics to the life sciences, and modified the syllabus to reflect the topics most relevant to these students. In this paper we describe our approaches to this course, summarize preliminary results, and identify future research directions addressing (1) the role of biological context in learning for these students and (2) issues in implementing such a course for physics faculty.
Abstract Type: Contributed Poster

Contributed Poster

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Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Catherine H. Crouch
Swarthmore College
Dept. of Physics & Astronomy
500 College Ave
Swarthmore, PA 19081
Phone: 610-328-8386
and Co-Presenter(s)
Kenneth Heller, University of Minnesota