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Overview. Challenges to Higher Education Physics Department A View of Physics EducationResearch & Development The Future. Pressures on Higher Education. Cost effectiveness Immediate relevance to student careers Entrepreneurial “Scholarship” Accountability To the public

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Challenges to

Higher Education

Physics Department

A View of Physics EducationResearch & Development

The Future

Pressures on higher education

Pressures on Higher Education

  • Cost effectiveness

  • Immediate relevance to student careers

  • Entrepreneurial “Scholarship”

  • Accountability

    • To the public

    • To the students

    • To scholarship

  • Decreasing value of formal education

Which of these entities are familiar

Which of these entities are familiar?

  • University of Phoenix

  • Midwest Higher Education Commission

  • Western Governors’ University

  • K-State On-Line

  • Open University

Teaching challenges to faculty

Teaching Challenges to faculty

  • What content to teach

  • Captive audience is escaping

    • Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET)

  • Distance education

    • Physics teaching is cheaper when made in Sri Lanka

  • For-profit universities

    • Will Wal-Mart sell physics?

  • Diversity in physics students is still lacking

  • Physics students in general are still lacking

Which of these are familiar

Which of these are familiar?

  • Bayh-Dole Act (1980)

  • Scholarship Reconsidered

  • The Entrepreneurial University

Research challenges

Research Challenges

  • Get Patents not Grants

  • Contract research with private companies

  • Interdisciplinary nature of cutting edge research

  • Lack of domestic graduate students

  • Lack of diversity among students/faculty

Research challenges1

Research Challenges

  • “…give the familiar and honorable term ‘scholarship’ a broader meaning…”

    • Discovery

    • Integration

    • Application

    • Teaching

      • Ernest Boyer

Major changes have happened

Major Changes Have Happened


  • GI -Bill

    • Changed the nature of the student body

  • Research Funding

    • Federal to universities in large amounts

      The Modern University

      is younger than

      Modern Physics.

Scholarship of teaching learning

Scholarship of Teaching-Learning

  • Frame questions about teaching-learning

  • Design systematic inquiry that address these questions

  • Use the results to develop new teaching-learning techniques

  • Apply the same type of effort to issues of teaching & learning as one does to other scholarly activities.

Physics education research development

Physics Education Research & Development

  • Scholarship of physics teaching & learning

  • Research on how student learn & don’t learn

  • Build models of student learning

  • Use psychological research to create models of instruction

Focus on physics students

Focus on Physics & Students

  • Thorough understanding of physics

  • Apply methods of social sciences

    • But reinvent many wheels including square ones

  • Our students are not young versions of us

  • Outcome improves the methodology of teaching and teaching evaluation*

  • Physics education research is greatly enhanced by its presence in the physics department*

    *APS Board May, 1999

Building conceptual understanding

Building Conceptual Understanding

  • Determine students existing knowledge

  • Use models of instruction or intellectual development

    • Challenge what needs to be changed

    • Build on the positive components

    • Provide applications

    • Social and collaborative component to learning

    • Different learning options

  • Test - revise - test -revise

    • Until the grant money runs out

How technology helps

How Technology Helps

  • Real world explorations & applications

    • Measurements

      • Physics of Sports; Bicycle Project

  • Visualizations of complex concepts

    • Can teach concepts to less sophisticated students

      • Visual Quantum Mechanics

  • Multiple Learning paths

    • Large databases

      • Physics InfoMall

What s changing

What’s Changing

  • Models of Student Learning

    • Structure of Physics as a discipline

    • How students make sense of physics

  • Technology

    • Distance Education

    • Dealing with information overload

      • Neural networks, Genetic algorithms, Visualization

  • Focus on what’s right

    • Student “misconceptions” - something to build on

  • Appeal to a broad range of students

Teacher education

Teacher Education

  • “… the physics community [must] take an active role in improving the pre-service training of K-12 physics/science teachers …”

  • “Strengthening the science education of future teachers addresses the pressing national need”

    • AIP, APS, AAPT, AAS, ASA (September, 1999)

The difficulty with physics education is that the problems never stay solved

The difficulty with physics education is that the problems never stay solved.

Melba Phillips

Job openings 2000 posted at aip or physics today with physics education research listed explicitly

Job Openings - 2000Posted at AIP or Physics Today with Physics Education Research listed explicitly

  • 6 Ph. D. Granting

    • 3 only physics education research need apply

    • 2 one of several specialties listed

    • 1 joint with College of Education

  • 15 Four-year Colleges

  • 1 Community College

  • 1 High School

    • Source: Jeff Saul, NC State

Ksu physics education group

KSU Physics Education Group

  • 1 Professor

  • 1 Administrative Assistant

  • 2 Post docs

  • 3 Physics Ph.D. Students

  • 2 Science Education Ph.D. Students

  • 3 Undergraduates

  • 1 Research Assistant

  • 3 Programmers

  • 1 Visiting Ph.D. Student

  • Director of Undergraduate Labs

  • Educational Technologist

Where do they go

Post docs & PhDs

Northern Iowa (2)


Air Force Academy

American University

Norfolk State

Malaysia Institute Tech.

State of Washington


Catholic Priest


High school teachers (4)

College Lab Managers (2)

Grad Student with JRM

Lear Jet

At Home


Where do they go?

Group demographics

Present Grad students (5)

3 female

4 domestic

Average time not in school

after BS: 4 years

Present & Former Post docs (6)

1 female

2 domestic

Average time from start of post-doc to start of real job: 1.9 years

Past Grad Students (14)

5 female

1 African-American

1 Hispanic

10 domestic

Average time not in school

after BS: 5 years

Group Demographics



  • Department faculty

    • Collaborate on teaching & educational research

    • Short term or long

  • University

    • Interdisciplinary by its nature

    • Art, Education, Provost, Biology, Chemistry, Geology

  • State

    • KU, 4 Community Colleges, Several school districts

  • Beyond

    • 4 US Universities; 1 US Community College

    • 6 European Universities

Challenges for the group

Challenges for the group

  • Demographic firecracker: 58

  • Faculty burn out

  • Lack of faculty “life insurance”

  • Focus of KSU College of Education

  • Funding in three year cycles

    • No renewals

    • Always a new project

  • Increasing competition for Grant $$

    • Taught our students and post docs too well

  • Job Market too good

    • Unable to keep post docs



  • Minimum

    • Hire Assistant Professor by Fall, 2001

  • Sensible

    • Associate/Assistant Professor by 2001

    • Assistant /Associate Professor by 2003

  • Better (Gray’s Plan Slightly Modified)

    • Associate /Assistant Professor by 2001

    • Assistant /Associate Professor by 2003

    • Replace DZ upon his retirement

What will we gain

What will we gain

The scholarship of teaching draws synthetically from the other scholarships. ... It is a special case of the scholarship of application and engagement, and frequently entails the discovery of new findings and principles.

Lee Shulman, President, The Carnegie Foundation

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