Welcome to the NC State Physics Education Research Group! Our faculty members and graduate students constitute one of the most well-known and respected PER Groups in the nation. Historically, we have made significant contributions to the field in assessments such as TUG-K and BEMA; we have made curricular contributions, such as the development and implementation of the Matter and Interactions curriculum; and we are the originators of the SCALE-UP studio classroom environment. Our faculty and graduate students have also contributed to the development of WebAssign and visualization software such as VPython and VideoGraph. The APS journal Physical Review: Physics Education Research originated here.
We have varied interests including assessments, problem-solving, visualization, and pedagogical and curricular reform. If you're interested in joining or visiting us, please don't hesitate to contact us!
WHAT IS PER?
We do research on the teaching and learning of physics. Then we develop teaching techniques and technologies that use what we discover to improve learning.
There are two basic types or "flavors" of PER–Physics Education Research. We often carry out "Mixed Methods" studies that combine the two approaches, taking advantage of the best features of each and avoiding most of their limitations.
The first type of research is Quantitative. As you might guess from the name, it deals with numbers. Typically, students are given some kind of test to partially reveal what they know or think about some physics topic. The advantage is that you can give these assessment instruments to thousands of students, and use statistics to generalize your findings. A disadvantage of this approach is that you don't gain much insight into what an individual student is thinking. In other words, the resolution is poor.
The second research method is called Qualitative. It is commonly done by interviewing individuals or groups of students. Because you can ask follow-up questions, you can acquire a lot better grasp of what any one student is thinking. Unfortunately, you can easily become so inundated with rich, detailed data that it can be hard to analyze. It is also difficult to generalize your findings to other students. Now you see why some of the best studies combine both research techniques!
WHO WE ARE
WHAT WE DO
We've produced curricular materials to help classroom teachers implement active learning.
We offer assistance to faculty, administrators, architects, and companies as they intentionally design instructional spaces.
Books and Chapters
Sometimes there is more to share than will fit in a single article. When this happens, group members work with commercial publishers to disseminate detailed information about their work.
HOW WE DO IT
We created the largest web-based homework system in existence and can use it for research purposes.
STEM Education Initiative
We have colleagues in multiple departments and colleges who are also working on discipline-based education research.