Tufts University, Department of Education
& Biology Department
October 27, 3:00-4:00PM
Halligan Hall, Rm 102
Productive Beginnings of Interdisciplinary Reasoning across Physics and Biology
Across K-12 and higher education there is a growing sense that science education needs to be more interdisciplinary. Twenty-first century scientists will need to learn how to reason at the interface of multiple disciplines in order to address complex problems like global warming, disease outbreaks or sustainable water management.
At the undergraduate level, courses billed as Introductory Physics for Life Scientists have become an increasingly popular "interdisciplinary" course. But typically, such courses apply standard introductory physics topics to biological contexts (e.g. using cheetahs to teach kinematics). These courses may make physics more appealing to biology students, but they do little to foster interdisciplinary reasoning. Indeed, very little research in science education has been done to characterize what such reasoning would even look like.
The University of Maryland NEXUS project included collaborations among biologists, physicists and science educators to design a course that would provide students with opportunities to solve problems at the interface of physics and biology that would meaningfully draw on each discipline. In this talk I present an analysis of several examples from our course that illustrate what productive beginnings of interdisciplinary reasoning might look like and discuss our hypotheses for how the course was able to support these outcomes.
Julia Gouvea is an Assistant Professor in Education and Biology at Tufts University. Her research explores the teaching and learning of biology across many grade levels and settings with an emphasis on model-based reasoning. In this work she draws on the philosophy of science to explore questions about what counts as biology and how biology interfaces with other disciplines. Julia earned her Ph.D. in Science Education from the University of California, Davis, her M.A. in Population Biology, and her B.A. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Princeton University.