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Georgia Tech

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  • Schatz, Michael

Contact Information

For more information about our work or opportunities with our group please contact Prof. Michael Schatz (schatz@physics.gatech.edu).

Physics Education Research (PER) is a diverse field of study which aims to understand how the many educational, social, and technological factors influence student learning, motivation, and problem solving abilities. Georgia Tech's Physics Education Research group (GTPER) develops and studies: technological advancements in physics education, student problem-solving in physics, measurement and assessment of conceptual understanding of, epistemology in, and attitudes toward physics. Our group focuses on improvements to large calculus-based introductory physics courses. These courses provide exposure to physics fundamentals required by virtually all science and engineering majors in the U.S.; thus, strengthening introductory physics instruction helps advance the scientific and technological capabilities of our nation.

In recent years, Physics Education Research has helped strengthen introductory physics; however, these courses still have significant room for improvement in a number of respects. The group's work focuses on two efforts to strengthen introductory courses, specifically: (1) Using cognitive science in a systematic way to develop new instructional materials, and (2) Developing ways to integrate numerical computation and visualization into all aspects (lecture, lab and homework) of the introductory course.

Presently, the work by our group includes comparing two very different curriculum across multiple metrics, working to understand how computation and visualization aid student ability to solve novel problems, and developing aspects of high schools physics curricula to include computation. The figure illustrates several aspects of our current research. From top left, clockwise: GTPER has worked to evaluate two very different curricula across multiple metrics. We have applied a new measurement technique to conceptual assessments to extract student reasoning. GTPER has deployed computational assignments in the introductory curriculum to over 1000 students. Students solve these problems using the Python programming language.


Additional Links

Physics Utility for VPython
Computational Modeling in Physics Attitudinal Student Survey