Light lunch available at 11:45 a.m. This presentation is followed by a one-hour discussion with graduate students and post-docs in 115 Erickson at 1:15 p.m.
The Demographics of Physics Education Research
Associate Professor, Department of Physics, New Mexico State University
The focus of this talk will be what I see as a disparity between the student populations that are most commonly studied by physics education researchers and the overall distribution of students taking physics. I will present evidence for this disparity from a survey of the student research population described in PER publications, and compare this with the overall distribution of students enrolled in introductory physics. Because we tend to select our research population from better prepared student populations and from more challenging courses, we may be in danger of developing an overly optimistic view of what students can do and of the effectiveness of research-based interventions. As PER broadens its focus and its research techniques, and as we seek to make physics more inclusive, it will become increasingly important that we also conduct our investigations with more varied student populations.
About the Speaker:
Steve Kanim received his B.S. in electrical engineering from UCLA and worked briefly as an electrical engineer in Santa Clara, California. The prospect of summers off led him to try high school teaching: After receiving his certification he taught physics at Las Cruces High School in New Mexico. This piqued his interest in education research, and he obtained his Ph.D. in physics at the University of Washington with dissertation research in student problem solving in electrostatics. Since then he has done physics education research at New Mexico State University, with a primary emphasis on student use of mathematics in introductory physics. He is recently retired, and hopes to divide his time between writing, woodworking, gardening, and auto repair.