#
Pitfalls Along the Path From Physics Education Research
to Curriculum Development

##
Stephen Kanim

New Mexico State University

on leave at University of Maryland

Curriculum that has been developed on the basis of physics education
research has been demonstrably effective at improving student
understanding of many physics concepts. Several simplifying
assumptions have contributed to this success. The first assumption
is that students in introductory courses at the universities where
the research was conducted can serve as proxies for the students in
courses where the curriculum is implemented. That is, the
difficulties encountered by students at the university that is
implementing PER-based curriculum are assumed to be roughly the same
as the difficulties uncovered through research. The second
assumption is that a large fraction of the students within a
population share common misconceptions about physics concepts. As
long as these misconceptions are identified, and a strategy for
addressing these misconceptions is reached, it is assumed that it is
possible to design instructional materials that will improve student
performance on questions relating to these misconceptions.

In this talk I would like to describe a physics education research
and curriculum development project intended for the introductory
algebra-based mechanics laboratory. Then I would like to describe
the ways in which this project has called into question the
assumptions described above.

Supported by NSF grants DUE-0341333, DUE-0341289, and DUE-0341350