Teach as a particle 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