#Hidden curriculum

When did physics start using the scientific method?

  1. When and at what meeting did physicists decide that they must use  

the scientific method in their research and not use Newtonian Mechanics? 

  1. When did physicists decide to use the scientific method only for  

exploring the physical universe? 


What was covered in our science classes in middle school and high school, apparently stems from the report of a survey of University of Michigan scientists done by Oreon Keeslar back in 1945.  Keeslar was just aiming for a list of things scientists commonly do when conducting experiments.  Science textbook writers turned the survey results into the rigid step-by-step methodology that has been cast about ever since.  While I’ve found social scientists try to follow “The Scientifiic Method,” scientists don’t follow such a rigid step-by-step approach.  Their work will involve many of the steps, but not necessarily in that order. 

These two items might help: 

McComas, William F. “The principal elements of the nature of science: Dispelling the myths.” The nature of science in science education. Springer Netherlands, 2002. 53-70. 

Keeslar, O. (1945). ‘A survey of research studies dealing with the elements of scientific method’, Science Education, (29), 212-216. 


The context in which the user is asking the question is important in understanding exactly what resources would be helpful. 

Thomas Kuhn’s ‘The Structure of Scientific Revolutions’ explores the development of science  from a philosophy of science perspective – asserting that ‘science enjoys periods of stable growth punctuated by revisionary revolutions’ 


The classic anti-method work is: 

Against method. Feyerabend, Paul, 1924-1994. (Author) 


The question was from an emeritus professor who is not a physicist. This afternoon I did a little more research and found that physicists had a debate at LMU Munich in 2015 about the scientific method (https://www.quantamagazine.org/physicists-and-philosophers-debate-the-boundaries-of-science-20151216/ and https://www.whytrustatheory2015.philosophie.uni-muenchen.de/index.html). Perhaps this is what the professor is referring to regarding a meeting among physicists about the scientific method. It’s a guess on my part, so I welcome further input if anyone has any. 

Perhaps you’re looking for the 1927 Fifth Solvay International Conference on Electrons and Protons: 


This conference was also the culmination of the struggle between Einstein and the scientific realists, who wanted strict rules of scientific method as laid out by Charles Peirce and Karl Popper, versus Bohr and the instrumentalists, who wanted looser rules based on outcomes. Starting at this point, the instrumentalists won, instrumentalism having been seen as the norm ever since.



Interesting query. 

Regarding 1, I’d stress two things: a) the scientific method and 

Newtonian mechanics are not mutually exclusive; they’re not even the 

same sort of animal. Newtonian mechanics is a theory — that is, a 

formal, precise model of some aspect of the universe. The scientific 

method is, well, a methodology — a tool to arrive at theories and 

other results. b) Again showing that the two are not in opposition: 

Physicists still very much use use Newtonian mechanics, within its 

realm of applicability (speeds much less than speed of light, 

macroscopic systems). And the scientific method has been in use since 

long before alternatives to Newtonian mechanics (such as relativity) 

came up in the eary 20th century. 


Regard 2 (but also 1), there is no unique date for the adoption of the 

scientific method, if only because practitioners of science don’t all 

use the same methods in unison. On the one hand, the scientiic method 

has been in use since at least the 17th centry (e.g. by Galileo: 


On the other hand, the scientific method is *not* in use by *all* 

practicioners even today (it is ignored by the proponents of 

scientific creationism, for example). So it was really a gradual 

change, not something that scientists decided on at some meeting. 


The reference to Newtonian mechanics makes me think that perhaps the 

query has to do with when and how physicists decided that Newtonian 

mechanics is not always applicable. Surely then the answer must be in 

the early 20th century, with the (relatively quick) acceptance of 

Einstein’s theories of relativity and the founding of quantum 

mechanics. There was not single “aha” moment, but between 1905 and 

1925 the picture changed dramatically. But before then, many theories 

were created to complement Newtonian mechanics, and like it they are 

still valid in their realm of application: wave optics, 

electromagnestism, quantitative chemistry, … 


To recommend some reading it would be helpful to know a bit more about 

whoever asked the question, especially their background. A student, a 

member of the general public, a journalist, …? 


Nest wishes, 




Silvio Levy 

Librarian Emeritus, MSRI 

Director of Publications, Mathematical Sciences Publisher 

buttons for instruction

and because they are fun!

from L to R:

Eye Heart UO libraries for Human Physiology students

UO Libraries with images from our campus newspaper archive collection [5 different ones here]

Find yourself at UO Libraries with maps as a background for a Geography class [2 variations here with and without a heart shape]

UO Libraries save lives with a cholera virus for a class that worked on issues around cholera [5th from left]

Backwards design, backwards and forwards [above the cholera and I belong…]

I belong at my library, borrowed from Amanda VerMeulen, source information below.

this is nice:https://librariandesignshare.org/2016/07/22/buttons-for-the-people/

Stop using Likert scales: 3 minute version and examples

For your library instruction feedback forms, we recommend a  model that produces actionable data as an alternative to Likert scale questions. [longer article linked below]

Dominique Turnbow and I developed performance based replies for our end of class evaluations, based on work by Will Thalheimer who does this in business settings. In short, we suggest turning your likert scales into something more useful. Dominique and Amanda Roth, both at UCSD, have this lovely example in qualtrics.

Or in like this in google forms.

They continue to update how they gather this information, example at right. Click to enlarge:

I have also printed out copies and brought them to class for students to fill out. When I don’t have students working on computers, that’s a good strategy. Qualtrics is so much nicer, but anything will work. Whenever possible I use our LMS (it’s now Canvas) to make a simple survey for students to fill out. We don’t have a formal system for reporting our results, but I can use these results to see what worked and what didn’t. If you’re getting students feeling confident about everything consider making sure you are addressing the topic in more complexity too. I use these forms for my own documentation of my instruction for contract renewals and performance reviews.

If I haven’t convinced you about this, that’s ok, but please use qualtrics which lets you label each reply, and if you need to use google forms, then use radio buttons so each answer can be labeled.

Will also has this super wonderful amazing Smile Sheet Diagnostic

Please consider reading our full published article.

misconceptions in librarianship

1.Everything is on google:


2. Students all have their own computers.

3. There is a peer reviewed article(s) about your topic.

4. Libraries and librarians are quiet

boolean is dead

Long live the Boolean? In what circumstances might Boolean be beneficial for undergraduate students? While outside the scope of this paper, Boolean may be more important for upper-level students or students with more complex research needs. For example, a student conducting an extensive literature review aiming for high recall (such as locating all possible relevant articles on a topic) or a student in a specialized discipline such as business where there may be many interrelated factors to consider (for example: industry, stakeholders, NAICS codes49).”

” Overall, natural search language is at least as good as Boolean searching. With evidence that students struggle to grasp Boolean searching, and may not use it even after instruction, it could be left out of first-year instruction, freeing up valuable class time to focus on concepts such as question development and source evaluation.”

LOWE, M. Sara et al. The Boolean is Dead, Long Live the Boolean! Natural Language versus BooleanSearching in Introductory Undergraduate Instruction. College & Research Libraries, [S.l.], v. 79, n. 4, p. 517, may 2018. ISSN 2150-6701. Available at: <https://crl.acrl.org/index.php/crl/article/view/16729/18669>. Date accessed: 02 may 2018. doi:https://doi.org/10.5860/crl.79.4.517.

And this:


“Also the study tests out natural language search vs  key concepts chained with AND operators and not my proposal that nested boolean is not necessary.”

7 types of mis- and disinformation, compare and contrast ideas

Stop calling it Fake News, 7 types of mis- and disinformation:


Information Disorder: Toward an interdisciplinary framework for research and policymaking


A typology for fake news:

Edson C. Tandoc Jr., Zheng Wei Lim & Richard Ling (2017): Defining “Fake News”, Digital Journalism, DOI: 10.1080/21670811.2017.1360143

To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/21670811.2017.1360143

Then consider the following. (Thanks Dan Rather!)

1. Understand that trusting a news outlet doesn’t mean they’re perfect — no one’s perfect. It means they tell you when they screw up.

2. Don’t rely on just one news outlet.

3. Don’t rely on just the news to understand an issue. Read books. Find the experts. Find out how the issues are discussed outside of news.*

4. If you find yourself agreeing with everything your news outlet says, you’re doing it wrong. If your news doesn’t challenge you, challenge your news.

5. Find a commentator whose politics differ from yours.… If you can’t find such a person, maybe the media is not the problem.

6. Remember that what the news tells you is far less important than what they decide to talk about in the first place.

Rather added closing words in the video.

“The true test of trustworthy journalism isn’t that they never make mistakes. It’s whether they’re willing to challenge the powers that be on behalf of those without power.”


*This echos this fascinating summary of a great experiment. The whole post is awesome, but this is from #2.

“The fact checkers were easily able to  avoid all the traps and narrow down on reliable data, while the historians and undergraduates struggled.
Why? Again I’m not going to summarise the whole paper and I urge you to read the full paper because it goes in fascinating detail on how fact checkers think and search as compared to the other groups but the upshot is the fact checkers were very quick to do cross-checking of information on other sites.
The article calls this “Taking bearings”. While the historians and students spent a lot of time studying the webpages they were presented with,  the fact checkers quickly started searching other websites to learn more about the webpages they were studying.”
Which pointed me to this terrific infographic from IFLA:
Finally this:
“We will talk about bias later, but to him** list based methods like CRAAP have too many questions and doesn’t guide the user on what are the most critical questions to ask and the order to ask them in.
He draws an analogy with doctors trying to diagnose patents. Doctors now don’t ask questions in a random order or ask patients to just list all the symptoms. Instead they are trained to use decision trees to ask questions in a specific order to narrow down possibilities.
As such, he gives the following specific targeted advice when checking for fake news.
  • Check for previous work
  • Go upstream to the source
  • Read laterally
  • Circle back
Notice, he doesn’t just give you a bunch of evaluation points, but tells you the order to do them. In particular, he follows the strategy of the fact checkers in the Stanford study and prioritizes cross-checking and validation.”

Engaging students watching student/group presentations

Have students watching the presentation use the same rubric you do and grade the presentations. (We do this, and I don’t think it offers much after the first few times. I like that it makes students think about what will go into their own presentations, but they tend to be generous graders.)

Have all students write down something they liked and something they thought could be improved on.

“Randomly* call on two students after each presentation – one to give a constructive criticism, and one to give a compliment. The potential of being put on the spot should keep most students paying attention.”

Students write one thoughtful question they would like to ask. Then, the presenting student(s) chooses one classmate to ask their question and then the presenter responds to it.

“A TAG sheet has three rows: Tell them something you liked. Ask them something that was unclear. Give advice for next time. These seem to work well IF I say that they must offer three pieces of advice, not necessarily one T one A and one G.”

Finally, this article had some interesting ideas: https://www.chronicle.com/article/Doubling-Down-on-Student/234622

This in particular:  Have students do a longer presentation – then write down what they thought went well, what didn’t and what they’d want to change. Students can turn that reflection of their own work in for credit.

One site suggests having them present to just 1 other person (or if working in groups, have 1 group present to another group), and have 3 or 4 presentations happening at a time.

You could even have them do this on consecutive sessions, so it’s a shorter time for any 1 class. Then swap groups presenting next class.

And then have students do a shorter presentation implementing those changes later in the term. (Shorter, because they have to sharpen their message, hone their skills, etc.)

In one bigger class, students also get to vote for their favorite presentation in their smaller discussion sections. The element of competition is an fun incentive for some. The professor had mugs made up, but a trophy from Goodwill with WINNER in sharpie would be tempting.

*random is hard (have a system – you can use an app, or put all student names in a hat/on index cards/on popsicle sticks to help.) Give them points for asking.

Women, POC, Others in STEM or Not all scientists are old white guys

For a project I’m working on:

In response to a student request for more representation of Women and People of Color in the sciences, we propose to use some of the available surfaces in the PSC to show visual images of under-represented people who have had an impact on the sciences along with enough text to explain who they are. Students would be asked to help create the visual displays. The final images/words would fit on 11×17 sized paper, so they can be printed on site. We would like to mount the work on foam core and plan to attach them to pillars and other surfaces with removable double sided tape (i.e. command strips). The creation of the posters would happen after approval and they would not be posted until after Dean Walton’s exhibit of International Prize winners was in place.

Also this: “Findings support the hypotheses that exposing undergraduate women interested in medicine to information about successful female physicians (role models) sets in motion a positive process involving the mechanisms of perceived identity compatibility and sense of belonging, leading to increases in or sustainment of women’s interest in medicine, despite continued gender-specific challenges.”


Examples from here are particularly inspiring:


also these:

Dr. Marian Diamond – documentary












Dr. Susan Smith McKinney-Steward – https://blackpast.org/aah/steward-susan-smith-mckinney-1847-1918

Susan La Flesche – A warrior of the people – 1st Indian doctor

Dr. Carol Burnett – http://www.einstein.yu.edu/features/stories/986/dr-carolburnett–changing-the-face-of-medicine/

Dr. Gladys West – mathematician-inducted-into-space-and-missiles-pioneers-hall-of-fame



Downloadable STEM Role Models Posters Celebrate Women Innovators As Illustrated By Women Artists

Mary Anning

Seven Beautiful Illustrations of Women Scientists You Should Know




Amazing Research Race online

How to get started with your own Amazing Research Race, link to document includes instructions, FAQ and a question bank.

Run an Amazing Research Race online, using google forms or a survey/quiz in Canvas (any LMS would work).

Run a Race in person, here is a student handout example

Bibliography on some of the topics covered here.