"Surrounded by Nerds," Physics Education Research and the Upper Division

Thursday, October 16, 2014: 11:20 AM
LACC 408A (Los Angeles Convention Center)
Michael Loverude, PhD , Physics, Calfornia State University of Fullerton, Fullerton, CA
Physics education research (PER) came of age largely in the context of introductory-level college courses that serve students who are primarily non-physics majors, including engineering students and preservice teachers.  More recently, a number of researchers have extended this focus into the middle- and upper-division courses taken by physics majors.  The apparent assumption in courses at this level has been that these students are well matched to the lecture-based traditional curriculum and that deep understanding would naturally follow from mastery of mathematical techniques.  In this talk, we examine those assumptions and the response of physics majors in upper-division courses to research-based instructional strategies as well as standard and modified assessment strategies.   We will further discuss the value of considering sociocultural as well as cognitive approaches.