Rutgers University Department of Physics and Astronomy

2010-11 Handbook for Physics and Astronomy Graduate Students

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Research Programs

Physics and Astronomy Education Research

Professor Eugenia Etkina

I am a professor of science education in the Graduate School of Education. My training is in physics, astrophysics and pedagogy. I teach physics and astronomy, prepare high school physics teachers, run professional development programs, and do research on student learning. The first 13 of my career were spent teaching high school physics in Moscow, Russia. After I received my Ph. D. in physics education from Moscow State Pedagogical University I joined the Rutgers Graduate School of Education. While working in a high school I developed an approach to teaching physics which mirrors processes that physicists use to construct knowledge. I did research on the effectiveness of this approach on student learning of physics concepts, development of their epistemology, and scientific abilities. Now I work in close cooperation with physics faculty to incorporate this approach into introductory physics courses. I am also the coordinator of Rutgers Physics Teacher Preparation Program. This is a unique program as it combines physics and pedagogy to prepare a new generation of physics teachers - those who not only understand physics but know how help students learn it. Rutgers University now is a national leader in physics teacher preparation. Currently I am interested in the transfer of scientific abilities that undergraduate students acquire in modified introductory physics courses (we just received an NSF grant to study this) and in the transfer of pedagogical content knowledge by physics teachers. I publish in physics education journals such as American Journal of Physics, Physical Review, The Physics Teacher, and in science education research journals such as Journal of Research in Science Teaching, Science Education, the Journal of Learning Sciences, etc. I chair dissertations of students in the Department of Physics and Astronomy working on Physics Education Research Projects and dissertations of students in the Graduate School of Education.

Professor Mohan Kalelkar

Professor Joel A. Shapiro

Joel Shapiro has long been interested in issues of Physics Education. In the early '70s, along with Prof. Watts, he developed a Keller plan self-paced course (323-324). He has worked on many tools for using computers for assessment and pedagogy. In the mid 80's he and Prof. Plano developed the grtex system for formatting and randomizing multiple choice exams, since expanded to include numerical answer questions. He developed a sophisticated readjustment procedure for mitigating grading discrepancies among recitation sections. In the mid 1990s, he designed and built the university's first "Student Response System", and though that hardware has since been replaced by commercial systems, his system led the way to use in most of our large introductory courses and in many other departments. Since that time he has been working on computer based tutorial systems for helping students in introductory physics courses cope with complex homework problems.  He is responsible for a major component of the Andes2 homework tutorial system, and has founded, along with computer scientists, the Watchung Tutoring Group, which works on more flexible systems to handle algebraic interaction with physics students.

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Revised June, 2010