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PhET Project

Page history last edited by Hannah Sabo 4 years, 7 months ago

Changing how physics students approach learning with simulations

Research and development of PhET-based tutorials


Award Info: NSF-DUE 1245400, TUES Type 1 project, ~199K, PI: Elby, Co-PI: Gupta, http://nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward?AWD_ID=1245400


Contact: For information regarding the project and associated activities contact Elby (elby@umd.edu) or Gupta (ayush@umd.edu)


Abstract: Researchers at the University of Maryland are developing tutorials to complement the popular University of Colorado PhET simulations. These simulations are some of the most widely used in physics and beyond (more than 25 million downloads every year), partly because they are crafted to balance two competing design goals---selecting controls and representations that draw attention to particular causal relations vs. providing enough freedom so that students can authentically explore. By contrast, the curricula currently included with the simulations were not created through the design cycle of iterative testing and revision typically used to create materials that help students achieve large conceptual gains. This project remedies that situation by engaging in a research-intensive design cycle to create effective tutorials and associated instructors' guides. Moreover, it is also providing crucial insights about how to trigger and sustain students' productive modes of interaction with simulations, and how to disrupt unproductive modes.

The tutorials have the potential to reach tens of thousands of high school and undergraduate students, likely many more, as the materials are to be promoted on the PhET site itself. In addition, the research on how students frame their interactions with simulations will be useful for instructors who want to write or revise activities associated with simulations or to use them more effectively in the classroom.


Current Activities: 

    A paper is currently under review as a part of the PRPER Focused Curriculum Selection, where we make argue for curriculum developers to attend to the types of conversations their tutorials generate. We have 8 tutorials written and are in the process of developing instructor guides for each of those tutorials. 



    Andrew Elby (TLPL)

    Hannah Sabo (TLPL)

    Ayush Gupta (Physics)

    Chandra Turpen (Physics)

    Vijay Raj Kaul (Physics)



    Eric Kuo (Stanford)

    Ido Roll (UBC)

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