This project began with the observation that though there is an abundance of topic-specific research on common misconceptions and misunderstandings in physics, there was very little systematic, topic-specific, patterns-oriented research on student conceptual resources for understanding physics. We not only had questions about what those resources would be, but also whether we would learn something new, whether time-tested methods for characterizing ideas would suit a resources-oriented analysis, and whether and how curriculum developed on the basis of our findings would be effective. Ultimately, we wanted to build a pragmatic toolset for instructors who wanted to implement resources-oriented instruction but needed evidence, ideas of where to start, and course materials to work with. We think we’ve done that – at least we’ve started to – and we’ve learned a lot, some unexpected, along the way.
Learn more about resources-oriented instruction in our American Journal of Physics paper:
|Amy Robertson (she/her, PI, Seattle Pacific University) is a Research Professor and physics education researcher with a strong interest in cultivating liberatory classroom and professional spaces. In her work, Amy roots herself in a variety of methodological tools, disciplinary and interdisciplinary collaborations, and her lived experience as a disabled and chronically ill physicist. Her research focuses on university students’ conceptual resources for learning physics and how frameworks from equity and justice can help physicists become more critically conscious. She is a proud puppy mama, a disabled hiker, and an avid crafter.|
|Paula Heron (she/her, PI, University of Washington) is a Professor of Physics at the University of Washington. She has been engaged in physics education research with a focus on improving student conceptual understanding and reasoning ability for nearly 30 years. She is involved in a number of international organizations and collaborations in PER and has been recognized by awards from the American Physical Society and the American Association of Physics Teachers. Dr. Heron is an Associate Editor of Physical Review Physics Education Research.|
|Rachel Scherr (she/her, co-PI, University of Washington) is an Assistant Professor of Physics at the University of Washington Bothell. A longtime physics education researcher, she has a special interest in educator development, including physics faculty, K-12 teachers, graduate teaching assistants, and undergraduate learning assistants. Dr. Scherr is the producer of Periscope Video Lessons.|
|Raphael Mondesir (he/his, co-PI, Seattle Pacific University) is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Seattle Pacific University. As a quantitative sociologist, Dr. Mondesir utilizes a variety of methods to study the intersection of community development, civic participation, and religious pluralism in the Global South. His special interest in civic cultures and social networks often inform his teaching and how he builds relationships with his students. Dr. Mondesir spends his weekends playing soccer or hiking.|
|Lisa Goodhew is an Assistant Professor of Physics at Seattle Pacific University. Her research focuses on university students’ conceptual resources for understanding physics and supporting instructors in effectively leveraging these resources. Dr. Goodhew’s favorite part of her work is getting to know and learn with students in and out of the physics classroom, and she is excited by the ways this research makes her a better teacher.|
|Tra Huynh (she/her) is a postdoctoral scholar at University of Washington Bothell. She is a physics education researcher and she has been conducting qualitative research on faculty and student professional development and equity education through multiple lenses of methodology and theories. She loves creating ideas with people and turning them into research. She is an aspiring knitter and baker.|
|Clausell Mathis is a postdoctoral scholar in physics at the University of Washington - Seattle. Clausell has been engaging in physics education research over the past 4 years with a focus on understanding how physics instructors can incorporate culture-based equitable approaches to teaching from a curriculum development, student learning, and teacher identity lens.|
|Lauren Bauman (she/her) is a research coordinator at the University of Washington Seattle. She first became interested in physics education research while learning physics as an undergraduate and is particularly interested in effectively creating empowering, equitable, and supportive educational spaces that authentically center students' ideas. Most of her research focuses on analyzing written data to identify students' conceptual resources.|
|Anne Alesandrini (they/them and she/her) is a current graduate student with the Physics Education Group at the University of Washington and a former public high school teacher. Their research interests include student explanations and educator development, and they spend a lot of time thinking about the interactions between education, science, and society. They find joy wandering around outside with their kids looking at plants.|
|Brynna Hansen is a current undergraduate student studying Cellular and Molecular Biology at Seattle Pacific University, and does physics education research as a side hobby! She hopes to attend medical school following graduation. Outside of school Brynna loves to read, exercise and spend time with loved ones.
|Olin Sorby is a current Undergraduate student studying Applied Physics and Norwegian language at the University of Washington. He has been working with Tra on CR in kinematics, pertaining to productive use of force reasoning in kinematics problems.
|Jon Owen (he/him) is a current undergraduate student in physics at Seattle Pacific University. He is currently working to analyze video of classrooms using ACORN tutorials to understand how students’ conceptual resources are activated and refined.|
|Jon Geiger is a recent graduate of Seattle Pacific University, where he received degrees in Physics, Applied Mathematics, and Honors Liberal Arts. He served as a Learning Assistant for three years, and has worked with the team on a project investigating the utility of natural language processing in characterizing students’ conceptual resources in physics.|
|Sam McKagan (she/her) is the creator and director of PhysPort, a website that supports physics faculty in research-based teaching and hosts open-source curricular materials, including the ACORN Tutorials. She has conducted research into physics faculty members’ and department heads’ needs around research-based teaching and assessment, and conducted several meta-analyses of the impact of research-based teaching in physics. For this project, Sam worked with Adrian to design the ACORNS Tutorials website on PhysPort, and helped analyze interviews with faculty.|
|Adrian Madsen (she/her) is the assistant director of PhysPort, a website that supports physics faculty in research-based teaching and hosts open-source curricular materials, including the ACORN Tutorials. She has conducted research into physics faculty members’ and department heads’ needs around research-based teaching and assessment, and conducted several meta-analyses of the impact of research-based teaching in physics. For this project, Adrian worked with Sam to design the ACORNS Tutorials website on PhysPort, and helped analyze interviews with faculty.|
|Yohannes M. Abraham (he/him) is an undergraduate cellular and molecular biology student at Seattle Pacific University interested in STEM teaching and learning as well as the medical field. He joined physics research to better understand why students’ have common conceptual misconceptions about physics and how to address these difficulties with a resource-oriented teaching and learning approach. He plans to work in a biology laboratory and wishes to attend medical school in the future. During his free time, he loves to play soccer, try different cuisines, and read Italian classic books.|
|Cheyenne Broadfoot is a graduate from University of Washington Bothell with a B.S. in Physics and is currently pursuing a M.S. in Coastal Zone Management and Marine Conservation from University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. She has a passion for learning and wants to use the acquired knowledge to work for an organization addressing wastewater and pollution in third world countries, specifically Costa Rica.|
|Beth Gallatin is a current undergraduate student at South Puget Sound Community College studying computer science. She joined the physics education research project to help develop a deeper understanding of students' conceptual resources and begin exploring strategies to create a more inclusive and diverse society of physicists. She is currently participating in research for the LIGO Collaboration working on the search for continuous wave gravitational radiation. She loves thinking and wondering about gravity, and the role it plays in our understanding of the universe. She has a persistently curious mind, and plans to focus on a career that bridges scientific resources, nature, and humanity.|
|Katie Marvin is a recent graduate of UW Bothell with a BS in physics. Before becoming a student, she was a dog trainer who taught large classes to the general public. Her experience in behavioral training, communication, and observation served her well as she worked her way through an associate's degree at South Seattle College. These same skills would prove useful when she was encouraged to join the physics education research project for her independent research credits. She has a passion for learning, teaching, and bringing out the best in others. After graduating she landed a job within the semiconductor industry. She plans to become a physics instructor someday after she has gained some real world application experience. With the free time she has, she likes to practice her woodwind instruments, hike, play retro games, and hang out with her dog, Zac.|
|Marcella Su (she/her) is a graduate of the University of Washington Bothell with a B.S in Biochemistry and a minor in Health Studies. She is pursuing medicine to become a doctor. She believes that research is essential to medicine in order to propel the field of medicine to create effective treatments for the members of our community. She hopes to practice and provide quality care for her community after medical school, as closing the gap between ethnic and marginalized groups is a core passion of hers. She is currently a Research Assistant at Veterans Affairs, Seattle Epidemiologic Research and Information Center. During her time off she helps her family in residential housing management, volunteers at International District Emergency Center, located in Seattle’s Chinatown, and does sewing with a sewing machine to help tailor clothing for family and friends.|
|Andrea Wooley (she/her) is an undergraduate physics student at Western Washington University with experience in physics education research and Mossbauer spectroscopy. The culture of physics is central to her research interests, in particular she is passionate about issues about justice, equity, inclusion and diversity. She’s a transfer student from South Seattle College where she studied students’ perspectives of physics in addition to working as a tutor and peer navigator. She spends her weekends hiking in Larabee state park, playing pool and taking care of her house rabbit, Monty.|
ACORN Physics Tutorials are developed iteratively, in conversation with research:
Researchers from our team first use student written responses to conceptual questions to identify specific, common conceptual resources for understanding a particular topic. This research shapes the initial design of an ACORN Tutorial, which elicits and then builds from identified conceptual resources, toward models, mechanisms, and concepts. These tutorials are then implemented in focus groups or classrooms, where students are video-recorded as they learn. Video analysis identifies ways in which the tutorial is working or not working as planned – or working well in unexpected ways – and this analysis then shapes the refinement of the materials. Often materials iterate through this process multiple times before being shared more broadly.
Coming soon: Materials for a pedagogy course to support LAs and TAs in using resources-oriented instructions.
When are guiding questions unhelpful?
When do students pursue challenging questions?