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Uwe & Andrea Muench

a missionary couple, a German physicist and an American teacher, changing the world



Other interests:

Teaching and Learning

Teaching and Learning are the acts, processes, and experiences of imparting and gaining knowledge or skill. Unless you are completely isolated from your environment, teaching and learning happens all your life. Hence, I care about this topic and like to think how to effectively teach and learn, and about basic principles and how to communicate them.

In the last three years of high school I attended a class called 'Pedagogy' or 'Educational Theories'. Here I was introduced to alternative school models and Gestalt therapy. At the University of Cologne I taught one-week classes on TeX, mainly in a not-too-effective lecture style, but the format didn't allow anything else.

At the University of Missouri-Columbia I taught physics laboratories, and math classes. I also tutored for the Total Person Program of the Athletic Department. I was part of the Graduate Teaching Scholars in 1998-99. This program is not currently active as a separate entity anymore because it became part of a teaching minor at MU after I graduated. I also received the Donald K Anderson Graduate Student Teaching Award in 1999. On March 19, 2001, I was the Honorary Coach for the Big XII Women's Softball Team at the University of Missouri-Columbia, nominated by pitcher Stefanie Falk.

After my graduation from MU, I worked as a high school math teacher at Christian Fellowship School (a ministry of Christian Fellowship church) and I taught the summer physics class at Columbia College. Since my visa status changed that summer I only tutored physics privately since then. Also, leading Bible studies for Chi Alpha gave me many opportunities for teaching and learning.

While I was at MU I studied the field of Physics Education Research and I learned how much more effective classes are that are taught in an 'interactive engagement style' vs. a traditional 'lecture style'.

Besides communicating science effectively (see my journalistic articles in the newspaper 'Columbia Missourian'), I am always interested in sharing the Gospel and how to witness. What motivates me is thinking about how science and religion are connected and to teach this. Fun stuff!

Below on this current page, you will find information on Physics Education Research. Other information, such as my teaching portfolio and philosophy, as well as alternative school systems, are on the following pages:

Physics Education Research

In the introduction, I mention Richard Hake's study on the effectiveness of interactive engagament methods as compared to the traditional lecture style. Eric Mazur, physics professor at Harvard, thought that he as ivy-league scholar surely can teach an effective lecture. So he tried, and the results showed: He failed. Fortunately, Dr. Mazur was not hurt in his pride, but instead he changed the way he teaches physics. He introduced several interactive engagement techniques (ConcepTests, Reading Quizzes, conceptual questions on exams), and in his lecture time, he clarifies issues from reading assignments or unclear ConcepTests. He described his methods in his book 'Peer Instruction'.

In a class on English communication and pronunciation, I gave a talk on the need of interactive engagement methods. Here is this 4-page outline of the talk:
PDF format: teaching-talk.pdf

Physics Education Research is research on the implementation and improvement of interactive learning environments, as well as research on student attitudes and on conceptual change.

As far as I know, Physics Education Research (PER) started as a field with Arnold Arons at the University of Washington in the early 70's. Lillian McDermott joined him in Seattle in 1973 and is now leading that group. There are now many places with research groups on PER. In the late 80's a group of researchers developed a diagnostic tool for Newtonian mechanics called FCI. Richard Hake analyzed the results of the FCI in 1998: It shows that lecture-based courses achieve a disappointing gain of 0.23, while interactice engagement courses yield a gain of 0.48 (here is a link to his paper).

Here is a collection of links to Physics Education Research groups:

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