Physics Education Resources

Physics education research seeks to find the most effective methods for teaching physics. The resources listed here highlight some of the key developments in this field. They have been selected to help a physicist unfamiliar with PER to begin using research-based teaching methods with a minimum amount of effort. Links are provided to strategies and materials developed at other institutions to promote borrowing and adaption (rather than re-invention) of best practices.

The body of literature in this field is vast, so this list is by no means exhaustive.


In the fall of 2008, the physics department sponsored a series of seminars on physics education. Video for Eric Mazur's seminar, "Confessions of a Converted Lecturer," is available (through iTunes).

Teaching Physics with the Physics Suite, Joe Redish This is the "Bible" of PER. A great resource that gives an overview of the field, describes successful implementation strategies and cites key papers.

PER presentation by graduate student Wells Wulsin, SASS.

David Hammer, "Two Approaches to Learning Physics", The Physics Teacher 27, 664 (1989)

Science and Physics Education Homepages



APS Resources on curriculum reform

PER resources targeted for graduate students

The Core Reading list from the FFPER conference

Bibliographies from Redish

PER Central from the AAPT

PER Reviews from the AAPT



MIT: Physics Courses MIT's workshop-based TEAL courses. Faculty NewsletterJournal of the Learning SciencesCarnegie Foundation magazinePowerpoint Articles by John Belcher, who helped develop MIT's TEAL course. The TEAL course showed increased normalized gains compared with the traditional course, but TEAL generated substantial resistance from the student body.

Illinois: How U. Ill. adopted widespread reform in its intro courses.

Maryland: Reinventing College Physics for Biologists: Explicating an epistemological curriculum, how U. Md. changed its algebra-based physics course. Learning how to Learn Science final report, an earlier evaluation of the course.

RPI: a Studio Physics approach



Guide for Tutorial Facilitators, from U. Md.

Tutorials in Introductory Physics, L. C. McDermott and P.S. Shaffer, 1998. Research-based tutorial problems, developed at U. Washington.

U. of Maine Tutorials for Intermediate Mechanics

Implementing Tutorials at CU-Boulder

Tutorials at U. Maryland

Tutorials in Physics Sense-Making from U. Md.

Cooperative Group Problem Solving at U. Minnesota

Undergraduate section leaders in the Stanford CS department, paper



D. Sokoloff and R. Thornton The Physics Teacher, v.35 (1997) Using interactive lecture demonstrations to create an active learning environment

C. Crouch, et al., Classroom demonstrations: Learning tools or entertainment? Am. J. Phys. 72 (2004) 835-838. Examines how much students learn from traditionally presented demonstrations

Interactive Lecture Demonstrations, David Sokoloff and Ron Thornton, 2001. Sample ILDs and how to use them.

Peer Instruction: A User's Manual, Eric Mazur, 1997. A guide to interactive techniques in lecture.

Clicker Resource Guide from CU-Boulder.



E. Redish, et al., On the effectiveness of active-engagement microcomputer-based laboratories, Am. J. Phys., 65, 45-54 (1997).

Real Time Physics, David Sokoloff, Ron Thornton, and Priscilla Laws, 1995. Computer-based lab activities, following the guided-inquiry method of predict-observe-explain.

R. Thornton and D. Sokoloff, Am. J. Phys., 66 (1998), 338. Data showing substantial gains made by RTP labs and ILD's over traditional instruction.

U. Md. Activity-Based Physics lab tutorial More like a lab than a standard discussion. Videos of: students and with TA.

Scientific Community Labs.

PhET Interactive Simulations from CU-Boulder.



Article on careers in PER, "Education Research: A New (Tenure) Track for Scientists", Science, 5 Oct. 2007.