Physics Education research

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8 the December 2007 - Very much a work in progress.
I'd like to have links to the major threads in the PER.

  1. Lindhouse etc in South Africa
  2. The German Connection
  3. Plus the AJP people who are many.

I want to have a good set of links in one place to refer people to during our Chuxiong_Visit - Derek

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Interactive Teaching in Physics

Engineering: small group/collabirative groups

Books - Tutorials in Introductory Physics L.C. McDermott, Peter S. Shaffer, and the Physics Education Group at the University of Washington. Lillian McDermot visited the NZIP Conference in Auckland in 1991.
"Tutorials in Introductory Physics is a set of instructional materials intended to supplement the lectures and textbook of a standard introductory physics course. The emphasis in the tutorials is not on solving the standard quantitative problems found in traditional textbooks, but on the development of important physical concepts and scientific reasoning skills"

Diagnostic Tools


TUGK "Our research group has been involved in the rigorous development and evaluation of instruments for uncovering student misconceptions in kinematics graph interpretation (TUG-K"

FCI: Force Concept Inventory

Hestenes Wells

Teaching Strategies=

Collaborative Small Group Sessions

Basic Introduction


Context Rich Problems University of Minnesota Physics Education Research and Development

Peer Instruction
"In this method,

  • The instructor presents students with a qualitative (usually multiple choice) question that is carefully constructed to engage student difficulties with fundamental concepts.
  • The students consider the problem on their own and contribute their answers in a way that the fraction of the class giving each answer can be determined and reported.
  • Students then discuss the issue with their neighbors for two minutes and vote again.
  • The issues are resolved with a class discussion and clarifications"

Teaching Approaches @ Course Level

Socratic Dialog-Inducing (SDI) Labs

(R Hake)
"SDI Labs are "guided construction" labs featuring hands-and-heads-on experiments in introductory mechanics. Their effectiveness in promoting student crossover to the the Newtonian World has been demonstrated by rigorous pre-post testing"

Just in Time Teaching

"Just-in-Time Teaching (JiTT for short) is a teaching and learning strategy based on the interaction between web-based study assignments and an active learner classroom. Students respond electronically to carefully constructed web-based assignments which are due shortly before class, and the instructor reads the student submissions "just-in-time" to adjust the classroom lesson to suit the students' needs. Thus, the heart of JiTT is the "feedback loop" formed by the students' outside-of-class preparation that fundamentally affects what happens during the subsequent in-class time together"

Workshop Physics

Programme: Workshop Physics


Modelling ASU

Open Source Tutorials

UInsure of the stastus of these

Aside: a site of links:


Personal Note: In 1996, Phil Butler introduced me to one article. Gatreau and Novemsky. From there I discovered this whole world. I was privileged to hear Ronald Thornton, Priscilla Laws and David Sokoloff several years later in 2000. - Derek

David Sokoloff University of Oregon

Ronald Thornton Tufts

Priscilla Laws Dickenson College

Richard Beichner Scale-Up

Eric Mazur Conceptests, Peer Instruction Home to Eric Mazurs education related work an unusual website where you cannot link to individual pages. Conceptests, Just in time teaching and peer instruction.

David Hestenes

Alan Van Heuvelen has written some cool stuff, but his internet footprint is almost zero. If you find something, please let me know.




Some key articles, not available on the web (without an AJP subscription)

Concepts first—A small group approach to physics learning. Ronald Gautreau, Physics Department, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Newark, New Jersey & Lisa Novemsky Department of Learning and Teaching, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey.
Am. J. Phys. 65 (5) 418-428 (1997)
"Since 1991, we have been using Alan Van Heuvelen's Overview, Case Study: Physics (OCS physics) methodology in introductory physics courses at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) with remarkable success. With the OCS method, physics concepts are presented first, with no mathematics. Only after the concepts are understood is math brought into the picture at the appropriate level. In addition, much of the learning is accomplished with students working together in small groups of three or four. In these collaborative settings, students actively engage each other in the learning process, working on specially designed small group problems, while the instructor acts as a facilitator of the on-going learning. We present various comparisons showing the effectiveness of OCS instruction over traditional teaching. In particular, since the introduction of OCS physics into NJIT's summer Educational Opportunity Program (EOP), which involves mostly minority students, EOP students have significantly outperformed non-EOP students in their fall physics courses. Interviews with students and observations of videotapes suggest that "second teaching" takes place in small groups following "first teaching" by the instructor. Second teaching is interpreted on the basis of ideas developed by Vygotsky. ©1997 American Association of Physics Teachers."

Learning to think like a physicist: A review of research-based instructional strategies Alan Van Heuvelen Physics Department, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, New Mexico
Many studies in physics education indicate that our conventional instruction fails to achieve objectives we desire for our students. Students leave introductory courses unable to reason qualitatively about physical processes. They use primitive formula-centered problem-solving techniques. Their minds contain a small number of facts and equations that are accessible only by random searches. In recent years, research by scientists interested in cognition and pedagogy has shown that we can do much better. This paper reviews this research and the instructional strategies that are suggested by it. The following paper reports the preliminary results of using these strategies in introductory physics courses that emphasize problem solving. ©1991 American Association of Physics Teachers

University of Maryland Physics Education Research Group Main Page: