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Stephen Remillard

Courses

Spring 2015
PHYS 362 States of Matter

Fall 2014
PHYS 121 Gen. Phys. I
PHYS 382 Advanced Lab
PHYS 490 Research

Fall 2013/Spring 2014
Sabbatical

Spring 2013
PHYS 352 Optics
PHYS 141 Physics Lab I
PHYS 142 Physics Lab II

Fall 2012
PHYS 141 Physics Lab I
PHYS 382 Advanced Lab

Summer 2012
PHYS 495 Microwave Engineering and Device Physics

Spring 2012
PHYS 122 Gen. Physics II
PHYS 142 Physics Lab II
PHYS 280 Math Physics I

Fall 2011
PHYS 121 Gen. Phys. I
PHYS 141 Physics Lab I

Summer 2011
PHYS 495 Microwave Engineering and Device Physics

Spring 2011
PHYS 106 College Phys II
PHYS 142 Physics Lab II
PHYS 490 Research

Fall 2010
PHYS 105 College Phys. I
PHYS 141 Physics Lab I
PHYS 361 Analytical Mechanics

Spring 2010
PHYS 106 College Phys II
PHYS 142 Physics Lab II
PHYS 342 Electromagnetism
PHYS 490 Research

Fall 2009
PHYS 105 College Phys. I
IDS 100-06 Renewable and Sustainable Energy
CHEM 490 Research
PHYS 490 Research

Spring 2009
PHYS 106 College Phys II
PHYS 108/142 Physics Lab II
PHYS 382 Advanced Lab
CHEM 490 Research

Fall 2008
PHYS 105 College Phys. I
PHYS 107/141 Physics Lab I
PHYS 281 Intermediate Lab
PHYS 490 Research

Spring 2008
PHYS 106 College Phys II
PHYS 342 Electromagnetism
PHYS 382 Advanced Lab

Fall 2007
PHYS 105 College Phys. I
PHYS 107 Physics Lab I
PHYS 281 Intermediate Lab

 

My Teaching Philosophy

My Motivation to Teach Physics
A decade ago I decided to leave my career in industry in order to devote myself to narrowing the gap between academic science and industrial science.  I truly believe that there is a need for industrial physicists to return to academia so that our valuable experiences can be used in the production of not only well trained, but precisely trained, physicists.  Having been where the graduates are going, I can offer to academic physics a rare perspective on the preparation of career physicists.

My Philosophy of Teaching Physics
The physics teacher is confronted with the need to present the physics enterprise to learners ranging from the liberal arts student to the scientific colleague.  In teaching physics I must meet the students’ expectations by providing practical training in the course subject.  But more subtle is the need to re-orient the students’ world views of physics by addressing common misconceptions.  These include the beliefs that physics (1) is abstract, disconnected and consequently cut-off from everyday human experience, (2) is composed of overly simplified assumptions, and (3) is subject to competing and conflicting theories (i.e. cognitive relativism, which leads to acceptance of pseudo-science). 

The physics apprentice rarely if ever has doubts about the intrinsic value of physics.  In contrast, it is sometimes necessary for a physics major to temper his or her enthusiasm for scientific absolutism.  We teach them models, but then also convey their limits.  But then it is crucial for the student to grasp the usefulness of phenomenology in experimentation, and that only comes from conducting research and reducing data to a few tangible parameters.  For this reason, hands-on experience gained through undergraduate research, for which Hope College is nationally recognized, is a pillar of physics education.  I also view undergraduate research as a tool for opening physics to students in under-represented groups who are looking for fields which hold a place for them to develop a career.  Participation in professional activities dignifies students, and makes visible their place in the field.

My Teaching Experiences
Any success in teaching I owe to a strong sense of empathy gained through learning physics, applying it to unfamiliar circumstances, and working within the bounds of other disciplines.  In fact, I adamantly believe that effective teaching requires sincere empathy, a characteristic which comes most naturally to those who have struggled under those exact circumstances.

I have taught in the liberal arts college with its characteristically small classes, and I have taught in the state university with class sizes exceeding 100 students.  While teaching the large classes, I endeavored to provide the small class experience to each student.  Quickly learning everybody’s name, keeping an always open door, and hand-grading 125 problem sets every week, were all part of providing a learning experience similar to the personalism enjoyed by Hope students.  Despite the large class size, nearly 25% of my university students would make office visits each week, often to discuss the personalized comments left by me on their homework.

I have a growing interest in teaching applied and vocational physics.  During the past several years I have taught physics courses to life and health science students.  In these courses, I often depart from more common practice by treating topics such as fluid mechanics and bioelectricity.  I often introduce and illustrate physical principles from within these and other contexts.  I truly believe that my students are better prepared to perceive the underlying physical mechanisms in their major studies as a result of my teaching methods.  I rise to the challenge of presenting physics to people who want to know how it fits, not only into all corners of nature, but into their profession as well.  My instinct for doing this was formed in industry, while necessarily making my case every step of the way to skeptical decision makers.