Improving student understanding of physics through research
Despite our best and most sincere efforts, there is an alarming disconnect between what we teach and what students learn both in introductory and advanced physics courses. The goal of physics education research is to help close this gap. I will discuss, using my own research and activities in introductory physics and quantum mechanics as examples, the three major components of physics education research: (1) Identification of student difficulties; (2) curriculum/pedagogy development to minimize the sources of these difficulties; and (3) implementation/evaluation of new pedagogy and teaching methods.
Chandralekha Singh is a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Pittsburgh. She obtained her Ph.D. in theoretical condensed matter physics from the University of California Santa Barbara and was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign, before joining the University of Pittsburgh. She has been conducting research in physics education for more than a decade. She is a pioneer in conducting educational research related to the teaching and learning of quantum mechanics. She is Chair of the Editorial Board of Physical Review ST Physics Education Research. She has co-organized many conferences in physics education research, including two annual physics education research conferences, a 2010 Gordon Conference, the first conference on the future of materials science and education conference (2008), and two conferences on graduate education in physics. She is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and the recipient of numerous teaching awards. In 2012 she received the Distinguished Service Citation from the American Association of Physics Teachers