The Lasting Impact of Introductory Physics for Life Sciences (IPLS)
Benjamin Geller, Swarthmore College
Fri., September 23 at 12:45 pm
Two primary goals of Introductory Physics for Life Sciences (IPLS) curricula are (1) to prepare students to effectively use physical models and quantitative reasoning in biological and biomedical contexts, and (2) for students to come to view physics as relevant to the life sciences. To assess whether these goals are being met, we conducted a longitudinal interdisciplinary study of the impact of IPLS on student work in later biology and chemistry courses, and on student attitudes toward physics. In this talk I will report on differences in student reasoning and attitudes that we found to be associated with prior or concurrent enrollment in IPLS. In particular, we found that IPLS students were more likely than non-IPLS students to reason quantitatively and mechanistically about particular biophysical phenomena, even up to two years after leaving the IPLS course, and were significantly more successful at building a physical model that combined ideas in a manner they had not previously seen. We also found that positive changes in IPLS students’ attitudes about the relevance of physics persisted for at least two years after the course ended.