Monday, March 1 • 2:30pm - 2:45pm
Talk Session 2: The Impact of IPLS in a senior biology capstone course

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Life science and medical professionals have called for undergraduate life science and pre-medical students to gain a stronger grounding in the content and methods of the physical sciences. In response, a community of physics educators have developed reformed Introductory Physics for the Life Sciences (IPLS) courses. While these courses have demonstrated success in increasing student appreciation of the value of physics for the life sciences, little work has been done to determine whether IPLS courses better prepare life science students to use and apply physical reasoning in later life science contexts. We report findings from a longitudinal interdisciplinary study in which we compare reasoning exhibited by students with and without IPLS on tasks administered in a biology senior capstone course. In particular, we observe differences in student work on a diffusion task that are correlated with prior or concurrent enrollment in IPLS. We find that IPLS students are more likely than non-IPLS students to reason quantitatively about diffusive phenomena and to successfully coordinate between multiple representations of diffusive processes, even up to two years after taking the IPLS course. These skills reflect competencies developed in the IPLS curriculum. We position these findings within the broader context of our longitudinal study of the impact of IPLS on student work in later biology and chemistry environments.

avatar for Benjamin Geller

Benjamin Geller

Assistant Professor of Physics, Swarthmore College
I am interested broadly in the relationship between physics and the life sciences, and in how curricula can be made coherent across these disciplines. I have a background in Physics Education Research (PER), where my work has focused on understanding how students navigate the disciplinary... Read More →

Monday March 1, 2021 2:30pm - 2:45pm CST