Talking PER to Physicists: An Experiment of My Own

I’ll be giving a talk to a Physics Department in a few weeks. So far, I’ve only had opportunity to do this once before, and it was around dissertation time. So obviously, I talked about my dissertation work. Now, I’m reaching a point where I think a lot more about how to engage different audiences with PER as a field, rather than just how to showcase my own work.

Anyway, here is a draft of the title and abstract for the talk I’ve been working on. Once the talk is done, I’ll come back and post.

Physics Education Research for the Physicist: Scattering Experiments, Model Building, and Complex Systems

Physicists and physics education researchers naturally study different phenomena. The physicist aims to understand the structure and mechanisms underlying physical phenomena, while the physics education researcher aims to understand the structure and mechanisms underlying particular kinds of cultural phenomena–that of how people come to learn and participate in the discipline of physics itself. Although the focus of their research is different, the two disciplines often employ similar methods, including experimentation, model-building, and theory development. In this talk, I frame several strands of research in physics education in terms of complimentary approaches in physics in order to answer questions like, “How is the FCI like a detector in a scattering experiment?” and  “Are there laws of student thinking that can actually predict what will happen in your classroom?”, and “How is inter-disciplinarity changing the research landscape in physics and physics education?”

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