University of Waterloo
200 University Avenue West
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada N2L 3G1
Phone: (519) 888-4567 ext 32215
Fax: (519) 746-8115
Assistant Professor, Department of Physics
Natasha G. Holmes leads the Cornell Physics Education Research Lab. Natasha received her BSc.(Hons) in physics from the University of Guelph and her MSc and PhD in physics at the University of British Columbia. Her graduate work involved designing, implementing, and evaluating innovative pedagogies for undergraduate physics labs. She then went on to do her postdoctoral work at Stanford University working with Dr. Carl Wieman. Her research group studies many aspects of student learning, attitudes, and skill development from hands-on laboratory experiences, with a focus on critical thinking and experimentation. They also study how we know what outcomes are being achieved (how do you measure critical thinking?) and what mechanisms are responsible those outcomes.
The goals of lab courses have been highly debated for decades with not much research to back up any position. In this talk, I will describe new research into the goals of lab courses, how we are measuring student progress towards those goals, and the efficacy of different approaches for achieving them. We’ll discuss some tactics for using introductory labs to teach experimentation and critical thinking skills, some examples of labs, and some new research on different ways of implementing them.