Faculty - Michael C. Wittmann
Associate Professor of Physics, Cooperating Associate Professor of Education and member of the Center for Research in STEM Education
Office: 223 Bennett Hall
- 1993 B.S., Duke University, Durham, North Carolina
- 1996 M.S., University of Maryland, College Park
- 1998 Ph.D., University of Maryland, College Park
For most recent vita, click here (pdf).
- Harmonic Oscillation (with John Thompson): investigating student understanding of oscillations, simple harmonic motion, and periodic
behavior at the introductory and intermediate levels.
- Quantum Tunneling: using interviews and a survey, we are investigating student understanding of the phenomenon of tunneling
through a potential barrier, as it is one area where classical and quantum physics make very different predictions.
- Microscopic Models of Electrical Conductivity: investigating how students use ideas from quantum physics (semi-classical models such as
the Drude model and quantum models such as band diagrams) to model the flow of charge in a circuit.
- Understanding the Tools of Physics Education Research: While its important to study students, we also need to step back and consider
whether the tools we use are appropriate for the questions we are asking. A variety of standardized tests and research methods are
commonly used in PER. Do they help? What are their limitations? How can we improve their use?
- Theoretical Models of Learning in Physics: How do students make sense of ideas in physics? What do they use as their toolbox, and why
do outlandish and counter-intuitive ideas eventually come to make sense? We seek to understand models of reasoning that apply to
novices, students with difficulties understanding the physics, and experts.
- Activity-Based Tutorials, volumes 1 (Introductory Physics) and 2 (Modern Physics), to be published by Wiley as part of the Physics
Suite which accompanies the new Cummings, Laws, Redish, and Cooney textbook, Understanding Physics.
- A General Education Course in Intuitive Quantum Physics: modifying the Activity-Based Tutorials to meet the needs of general education
students with little experience in science or mathematics.
- A Graduate Level Course in Physics Education Research (with John Thompson): When teaching both PER and non-PER students about education
research, we focus on the tools that are used and the body of knowledge that has been developed over the past few decades. In a two-semester
course, we have students learn the research skills and carry them out on their own research projects. As instructors, we study how well they
learn to analyze data and how well they understand previous research