Teach as an experimental physicist

Aug 02, 2019 teaching USD grant CTL

Eversy summer, CTL at USD provides a fellowship for faculty members to sit together in a week long workshop to learn from each other or a resource how to design a new course or redesign an old course. Here is a list of things that I learned from it.

Learning how to learn

  • study plans made by students
    • signed by students and instructor as contracts
    • include both students’ and instructor’s expectation
    • leave flexibilities to modify
    • give a test period
    • ways to avoid burn-out
    • personal strength and weakness or characters
    • things to learn and to test
    • ways to assess
  • practice
    • identify things that students don’t understand


Instructor cares about students, students care about each other, both care about the subject under study.

  • motivation speach
    • their role in the world, value their role
    • course facilitate self growth
  • real world examples, case studies
    • it triggers emotion
  • instructor and students share personal feelings
    • it comforts others
  • discussion, group project
    • students need to understand that their goal is to grow themselves instead of showing the “best” of themselves to others
    • let students to form groups by themselves so that they feel comfortable to work with their teammates


  • frequent quiz, homework and exams with immediate feedback
  • IF-AT
  • Rubrics need to be included in assignment description
  • template or other guidance for assignment
  • different types and levels of assignment and grading
    • grade not only result, but also effort (break big project into small tasks that can be graded)
  • grade harder at the beginning to create a steady improvement to encourage students
  • or grade harder toward the end since students should have learned over the course
  • give students information about her progress more frequently
  • grade is a quantitative feedback
  • stress test in a review class (a simulated test)
  • pre-test to gause the progress
  • Tell students that failing in a class is a low stake failure compared to a real life failure


  • feedback from students
    • after class survey to get instant feedback
    • muddiest point (ask students what they don’t understand)
    • fun questions (color of the instructor’s glasses)
    • tell students usage of the data collected
  • syllabus
    • office hour policy (students must schedule meetings with instructor to do something together)
    • syllabus quiz to check if students read it
    • easter egg hidden in syllabus
  • Boyer’s model

Blogs on physics research and educational activities of Jing LIU, an associate professor in physics at the University of South Dakota. He is an experimental physicist developing novel particle detectors for astroparticle physics and civil use.