OPTYCs SPOTLIGHT 2023 Issue 13

August 23, 2023 Issue #13

SPOTLIGHT is the OPTYCs bi-weekly newsletter. It brings you OPTYCs activity updates, highlights from recent publications related to physics education, and news & resources for Two-Year colleges.


Upcoming events
  • SPOTLIGHT is planning to add a section named "Reader's corner" that will feature contributions from readers. Please consider sharing comments, tips, ideas, resources you have come across or anything that you think might benefit your physics TYC colleagues.
    Contact me directly if you have any question or suggestion: karim.diff@sfcollege.edu
OPTYCs Programs
  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Change Teams: The goal for this two-year-long program is to create a capacity-building learning community among two-year college physics-related teaching instructors to support efforts to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion for our students. We are now accepting applications for Cohort 1 (until Oct. 20, 2023).
  • OPTYCs Leadership Institute 2024: The TYC Leadership Institute is an innovative fellowship specially designed for Two-Year College Physics faculty, aiming to develop and enhance their leadership skills. The application deadline is October 20, 2023.
Recent OPTYCs events

In preparation of its annual report, OPTYCs has surveyed participants in its various events. Here are some of their comments about the impact of OPTYCs:


Kris’ corner

Tips, summaries, and musings from Kris Lui (OPTYCs Director)

Are your students actually thinking when they’re in class? We know that, in order to learn, we must first think. Let’s be clear here; I don’t mean “are your students actively doing stuff” in class. I mean, are they stretching their minds when engaged in a task? Are they being critical about what they know or don’t know? Do they ask good questions that further their understanding of the content? In his book Building Thinking Classrooms in Mathematics (Corwin - Sage Publishing, 2021) education researcher Peter Liljedahl introduces the concept of ‘studenting’. This is analogous to ‘teaching’; as teachers, we engage in many different activities: classroom management, announcements, developing lesson plans, grading, engaging with students, among many other things. ‘Studenting’ may involve navigating relationships with classmates and with teachers, figuring out what is being asked of them, trying to beat the system, wondering if this will be on the test, and so on. As Liljedahl states, “studenting is what students do in a learning setting - some of which is learning. And much of which is not.” Students have been habituated into classroom behaviors: listening, taking notes, and practicing. However, students (us included) have not been habituated into thinking critically about open-ended concepts and figuring out how to create knowledge. The vast majority of students mistakenly believe that mimicking and learning are the same thing. And our school systems, from early elementary school to college classes, have been complicit in perpetuating this myth about learning. To disrupt this, Liljedahl recommends a multitude of practices that go against classroom norms, and therefore shake students (and dare I say, teachers) out of habits and into a new territory of learning. I’ll have more to share on these ideas in future issues.


Krista Wood was featured as the July "AAPT Member Spotlight"

Books, Articles and Media

This wonderful video was posted by David Jackson three weeks ago on YouTube. It challenges our common understanding of circular motion and would be a great addition to a classroom discussion of the subject.



The work of OPTYCs is supported by NSF-DUE-2212807.