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Abstract Title: Explanatory coherence in an introductory physics for life scientists course
Abstract: Life science students crave coherence among the science courses that they are required to take, and are frustrated when these courses fail to talk to each other in meaningful ways. In an effort to bridge disciplinary divides, we have designed and iteratively implemented an Introductory Physics for Life Scientists (IPLS) course that aims to unpack the physical mechanisms underlying a number of authentic biological phenomena. We draw on case-study data to examine what it looks like for students in our course to build bridges between fundamental physical principles and meaningful biological questions. In particular, we explore the multiple pathways by which students' connect different disciplinary explanations for biological phenomena in the context of interdisciplinary sense making, and the affective markers that indicate satisfactory explanation. We argue that achieving explanatory coherence in an IPLS course demands that we take up authentic biological phenomena for which completely mechanistic (highly detailed) accounts are not always practical.
Abstract Type: Contributed Poster Presentation

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Benjamin D. Geller
University of Maryland, College Park
and Co-Presenter(s)
Benjamin W. Dreyfus, Julia Gouvea, Vashti Sawtelle, Chandra Turpen, Edward F. Redish

University of Maryland, College Park