Open Classrooms Program

LMU Faculty volunteer to open their classrooms on selected dates to other faculty who arrange in advance for a visit.  The purpose of the program is to disseminate innovative ideas about teaching.



Physics Department


Vincent Coletta, Professor of Physics  


PHYS 253 is a first semester course in physics for life science majors that covers basic concepts in mechanics, fluids, and heat.    The course meets in Seaver 101 on Tuesdays 8:00 – 9:30 AM or 1:00 – 2:30 PM.


This course uses a unique pedagogy, Thinking in Physics, I developed through a National Science Foundation grant, described in a book published by Pearson as part of its Educational Innovation series.  The book is available for borrowing from the CTE.  The S101 classroom is a uniquely designed room that facilitates interactive engagement.  There are two types of classes:  I Concepts Classes & II Problem Sessions. 

I Concepts Classes:

Clickers are used in these classes to provide a student response system.  Students respond to challenging conceptual questions inserted into the lecture.  The effective use of clickers is often not understood because they are often used in ways that are not effective.  When well used, clicker questions provide a very effective way to stimulate student engagement and discussion of challenging concepts.  Exactly how they are used effectively is best understood by observing a class. The methods used have been demonstrated to result in dramatically improved understanding of concepts, compared to traditional methods.

II Problems Classes:  

All students present a homework problem on the board at the beginning of the class.  Then additional problems, gradually increasing in complexity, are posed, worked on in small groups, and discussed as a class.  Emphasis is on using the Polya Method:  Formulate, Plan, Execute, Review.  The learning objective is to become better problem solvers, and not just in physics.

Some of the problems are true problems, not just exercises, meaning that when students first encounter them, they may have no idea how to solve them.  Yet they learn that the concepts they have learned can enable them to progress toward a solution.



To request a visit to one of these classes, please contact me by email: