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PER HistoryOne way of understanding the history of PER is describe the major themes of research throughout the past 4 decades. The "pioneers" of PER have had a major influence in how the field developed, and there are many different strands of work that are considered to be part of PER. Some hybrids have come into being, when major themes of PER are brought together through collaborations or colleagues.
Another way to understand the history of PER is to look at the major researchers and the students they have graduated. The family trees of Kansas, Maryland, and Washington are notable, for example, due to their size and for the influence that several graduates have had in PER.
Finally, one can make important lists: names of the chairs of the AAPT committee on Research in Physics Education, locations of the Physics Education Research Conferences and other individual meetings, and members of the Physics Education Research Leadership Organizing Committee, the elected board of the PER Topical Group in the AAPT.
A talk on the early history of PER was given by A. Arons at the 1998 Physics Education Research Conference in Lincoln Nebraska. See also R. Beichner's, An Introduction to Physics Education Research, a peer reviewed chapter of Getting Started in PER, (Henderson, C. and Harper, K., eds.).