Physics Education Research

Physics Education Research (PER) works toward theoretical understanding and practical advancement of instruction, specifically concerned with the disciplinary knowledge and practices of physics. Researchers work within and contribute to the PER community, situated mainly in departments of physics, as well as the (much larger) communities of the learning sciences and education research.

At Tufts, PER takes place in collaborations between the Department of Physics and Astronomy and the Department of Education, and with researchers at other universities and research organizations. Our research ranges from foundational theory to developing curriculum and instructional practices, focused mainly at college levels but spanning levels from elementary school through graduate.

David Hammer's group studies the dynamics of how students approach learning, in particular episodes and developing over time, and responsive teaching—instruction that attends to and engages with the substance of students' thinking. Roger Tobin works on curriculum and teacher professional development for elementary school science, as well as on implementing and disseminating research-based instructional approaches at Tufts. Tim Atherton studies project-based approaches to learning, particularly around integration of computation into the physics curriculum.