A Science of Science Education: Studies of Transforming Undergraduate Physics

Noah Finkelstein

University of Colorado, Boulder

February 21, 2007, 4:45 PM
Physics Lecture Hall

(Coffee, tea and cookies at 4:30)

As a result of decades of work in the physics education research (PER), the physics community has successfully demonstrated programs that

ignificantly improve student understanding. At the same time there is less of an understanding of what it means to replicate and sustain these reforms. Are we bound to the same limited success as reforms developed earlier in the 20th Century? This talk will discuss a variety of effective classroom practices and surrounding educational structures, and begin to examine why these do (and do not) work. The talk then examines what it means to replicate proven reforms and to develop models for sustainable implementation of educational reform in physics. As part of the Colorado Physics Teacher Education Coalition and an NSF CCLI grant, our research group has implemented a number of PER-based reforms in our introductory sequence[1]. I introduce some of these programs, present empirical data on the success and fidelity of implementation of the reforms, and develop theoretical frames for analyzing these data. A key factor in the program success is Colorado's Learning Assistant program[2] which enables these course transformations, while simultaneously increasing the pool of talented physics teachers and explicitly valuing teaching and education within physics.

[1] N.D. Finkelstein and S.J. Pollock, (2005). Replicating and Understanding Successful Innovations: Implementing Tutorials in Introductory Physics" Physical Review, ST:PER, 1,1, 010101.

[2] V. Otero, N.D. Finkelstein, S.J. Pollock and R. McCray, (2006). Who is Responsible for Preparing Science Teachers, Science, 313, 445.

Last modified: Thu Feb 15 16:40:16 2007