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Completed Projects

Page history last edited by Joe Redish 6 years, 8 months ago

FrontPage > Current Projects


Here are the names and descriptions for projects we have been involved with in the past...



Toward a New Conceptualization of What Constitutes Progress in Learning Physics, K-16: Resources, Frames, and Networks

An NSF (ROLE) supported project (2005-2008). The long title describes what we're after (the new conceptualization) and the theoretical bases from which we hope to build it. The core idea is that students of all ages have a rich variety of cognitive resources for reasoning about the physical world, resources they use in different ways depending on the circumstances. We're interested to understand how students extend and refine these resources and how they use them. (D. Hammer, PI)


Developing conceptual and teaching expertise in physics graduate students:

An integrated approach

Many physics educational reforms depend on graduate teaching assistants (TAs) to deliver instruction to small groups of students working on issues in conceptual physics. But many physics TAs have difficulties both with the content knowledge (conceptual physics) and the pedagogical content knowledge (assumptions about how students learn). In this project we will create a professional development seminar to help TAs develop sophisticated teaching practices, and research the ways in which taking our seminar and teaching in a reformed introductory physics course bring about changes in their approaches to teaching. (R. E. Scherr, PI)


Learning the Language of Science:

Advanced Math for Concrete Thinkers

An NSF (DUE/DTS) supportedproject (2005-2009). A project to study and model student difficulties with applying advanced mathematics in physics. A critical issue is the integration of modeling, interpretation, and evaluation skills with the more commonly stressed math processing skills. (E. F. Redish, PI)


What influences teachers' modifications of curriculum?

An NSF (ESI) supported project (2005-2008). Teachers get objectives and materials from schools for their courses, but they very often make modifications. These can be little adjustments such as spending some extra time on a topic or skipping an activity, or they can be substantial changes, such as substituting a different activity or switching to another textbook. We're interested to understand what influences them in making these modifications, and especially what goes into their making effective modifications.


Learning How to Learn Science: Physics for Bioscience Majors

An NSF supported project (2000-2005) to study student learning in algebra-based physics. The population studied is dominantly bioscience majors and pre-health-care professionals. The focus of the study is on meta-learning issues including basic research on student resources, student difficulties with mathematics in physics, and student difficulties with conceptual issues of measurement In addition, we modified existing best-practice materials for introductory university physics and developed a new survey probing student expectations. (A. Elby, D. Hammer, E. F. Redish, & R. E. Scherr, PIs)


Open-source tutorials integrated with professional development materials

In this NSF (DUE/CCLI) supported project (2004-2006), we refine and class test open-source tutorials (worksheets intended to guide collaborative active learning) that instructors can customize to the needs of their students and curricula.   To help instructors make productive modifications and implement the tutorials effectively, we hyperlink the worksheets themselves to instructors' guides and annotated video clips of students using the worksheets.


Case Studies of Elementary Student Inquiry in Physical Science

An NSF supported project (2000-2004) to develop a series of written and video case studies of elementary student thinking in physical science. The case studies we publish at the end of the project will contribute to teachers' and researchers' understanding of student learning in science.


Quantum and Modern Physics Learning

A project supported by FIPSE and the NSF (1997-2000). An understanding of quantum physics is becoming increasingly important for research scientists in many other fields than physics, including electrical and materials engineering, biology, and computer science. In this project, the UMd PERG is researching conceptual difficulties upper division engineers have in understanding quantum physics. Supplementary instructional materials have been developed on the basis of this research and are available here.


Activity-Based Physics

An NSF supported project (1995-1998). ABP is a multi-university consortium to develop coordinated active-learning materials for introductory physics. The materials developed for this project are research-based and carefully evaluated for effectiveness. They integrate microcomputer-based laboratories and video data collection and analysis.


Student Epistemologies and Expectations

An NSF supported project (1994-1998). An important part of what students should learn from physics courses is how we know what we know. Some of the difficulties students have in making sense of introductory physics arise from mistaken ideas about how science knows what it knows. Student expectations on what they should do to learn physics and what it means to understand it can also lead to problems. The UMd PERG has been studying how to understand and measure these critical factors, and how to use the understanding we develop to improve instruction. Click here to go directly to the Maryland Physics Expectations (MPEX) survey page. 

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