Navigation Links

Instructional Strategies

While most college physics courses involve lectures and labs, the instructors of Physics 111 employ the process of inquiry instead. The process of inquiry requires both instructors and students to use questioning to develop knowledge. When new subjects are introduced, sometimes diagnostic questions are given, sometimes brainstorming posters are generated, while at other times, group discussions (about what they already know, what they want to find out, etc.) get the ball rolling. The students state what they already know, and then the instructor asks them to describe how they know that. By providing oral responses to questions like these, the students become engaged in thinking through the steps of how they know what they know. When activities are taking place in the classroom, the students often come up with difficult science questions. Instead of simply explaining the answer, the instructor returns the dialogue with a different question. The students are then obligated to answer and discuss their ideas. From those ideas, a new question ensues from either the student or the instructor. This back and forth style of questioning and discussion transforms a simple question-and-answer into a piece-by-piece development of understanding. As students pull the pieces together to form a more complete understanding of how or why something works in a certain fashion, a sense of accomplishment and pride also begins to develop. Even though the instructor is the one guiding student thinking by asking deliberate questions, the students are the ones who discover the answers. This style of learning is exciting because students get to use their own thinking and logic skills to attain knowledge. When students fully comprehend a subject because of their own questioning, discussing, and processing of ideas, more than just science knowledge is gained. Self-esteem and confidence are built, and a thirst for continuous learning emerges! By implementing the process of inquiry into one's teaching style, instructors are changing the way students think about ideas. This state of mind impacts more than just the ways students think about science. By the end of the Physics 111 course, students think more inquisitively and more reflectively, and they are more confident in every avenue of their lives.

Personal Tools