main area of interest is Physics Education Research
and development (PERD), with the goal of improving
physics courses and curricula, in terms both of
content and pedagogy. The most visible example
of this work is the two-volume calculus-based introductory
physics textbook "Matter & Interactions" written
with Ruth Chabay. This textbook differs radically
in content from almost all other introductory physics
textbooks in its emphasis on the atomic nature
of matter and on engaging students in modeling
physical systems, including making approximations,
simplifying assumptions, and idealizations. The
intent is to make the introductory physics course
more representative of the contemporary physics
related interest is in the use of computers in
education, a field in which I have made contributions
since 1969. In the "Matter & Interactions" curriculum
students write computer programs to model physical
systems. This introduces the students to computational
science, which has become just as important as
theory and experiment in physics and other fields
of science and engineering. The programming environment VPython makes it possible after
just an hour or two of instruction for students
to write programs with navigable real-time 3D
animations, even if they have never written
a program before. I am the gatekeeper for this
I developed a distance learning course based on the "Matter &
Interactions" textbook and curriculum intended for in-service teachers
of high school physics, to offer a new and deeper view of the subject,
and to introduce teachers to computational science. See the section
"Course for HS teachers" at the Matter &
Interactions web site.
Publications (the AJP articles are available at the Matter
& Interactions web site)
Matter & Interactions. R. W. Chabay & B.
A. Sherwood. New York: John Wiley & Sons
(3rd edition, 2011).
of two curricula: The performance of 2000
students in introductory electromagnetism," Physical
Special Topics – Physics Education
5, 020105 (2009). M. A. Kohlmyer, M. D. Caballero, R. Catrambone, R. W. Chabay,
L. Ding, M. P.
physics in the introductory calculus-based course,"
American Journal of Physics, 76 (4&5). R. W. Chabay
& B. A. Sherwood (2008)
"Restructuring the introductory electricity and magnetism course," American
Journal of Physics 74. R. W. Chabay & B. A. Sherwood.
(2006). p. 329-336.
"Modern Mechanics," American Journal of Physics 72.
R. W. Chabay & B. A. Sherwood (2004). p. 439-445.
"Bringing atoms into first-year physics," American
Journal of Physics 67.
W. Chabay & B. A. Sherwood.