Physics professor visits University to discuss education transformation

Noah Finkelstein will give lecture on improving student engagement in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics classes

1/10/2014 | By: Patrick Harris  |

Noah Finkelstein, a national expert on education transformation in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, will speak at the Joe Crowley Student Union Theater at 4 p.m., Monday, Jan. 27.

In his lecture entitled "The Role and Promise of Universities and Disciplinary Engagement in Educational Transformation at a Critical Time," Finkelstein will discuss school course transformation, the national Learning Assistant program, and how the Center for STEM Learning supports effective change in education.

"I became aware of Professor Finkelstein's work while researching science education," Regina Tempel, associate dean and associate professor in the College of Science, said. "His name kept popping up. His work in education has made him a big name in the world of science."

Ten years ago, Finkelstein, a physics professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder, sought ways to improve education in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, known as STEM. He conducted research with his physics students to determine what they have learned, how they learned it and if there is a better way to teach. As a result, the University of Colorado, Boulder's STEM program was reformatted and restructured to provide the best learning experience for students.

Finkelstein continues his research today and visits with education staff from around the world to encourage change in the classroom. Tempel, who invited Finkelstein to lecture at the University, met with him several times over the past year about the program. Tempel is now developing a similar program at a local Reno middle school.

"I'm setting up a program with Mendive Middle School," Tempel said. "Six undergraduate students will be in the classrooms to serve as science learning assistants, provide content to middle school science teachers, and act as role models to the middle school students. We hope this will get the students excited about science."

Finkelstein conducts research in physics education, serves as a director of the Physics Education Research (PER) group at Colorado, one of the largest research groups in physics education in the country, and is a director of the national-scale Center for STEM Learning, which has become one of eight national demonstration sites for the Association of American Universities' STEM Education Initiative.


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