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Group Members - Michael C. Wittmann

Michael Wittmann, PhD
Professor of Physics
Cooperating Professor of STEM Education
222 Bennett Hall
Orono, ME 04469Office Phone: (207) 581-1237
Email: mwittmann<at>

Michael received his B.S. in physics from Duke University in 1993. His graduate work in physics took place at the University of Maryland. He received his M.S. degree in 1996 and his Ph.D. in 1998, while specializing in physics education research. From 1998 to the end of 2000, he was a post doctoral researcher at the University of Maryland. He began as assistant professor at the University of Maine on 1/1/1 and was promoted to associate professor in physics in 2007. In 2013, he was promoted to professor. From 2014-2016, he was Chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy.

The overall theme of Michael’s teaching and research is seeing things – what do you see, what does it tell you, how do you understand it, what do you do next? These questions inform both his teaching and his research.

Michael has taught classes for non-science majors (Intuitive Quantum Physics), sophomore-level mechanics students (using the Intermediate Mechanics Tutorials), graduate students learning about physics education research, as well as courses on educational psychology and research methods in education. He has also taught teacher preparation courses, introductory physics classes, and upper-division classes in quantum physics for engineering students.

Presently, he is working on issues related to teachers’ knowledge of content and knowledge of students’ ideas and teachers’ interactions with students (e.g., formative assessment using both written tools and through interactions in the classroom). Content topics for this work include acceleration, force, and various topics in energy. Past projects have included:

  • students’ understanding of waves, energy, quantum physics, coordinate systems, and integration;
  • researchers’ observations and models of their observations of student thinking (e.g., item design in surveys, methodological issues in video analysis), and
  • models of learning that include the human body (e.g., embodied cognition) and their connections to schema theories (e.g., a resources framework).

Much of this research takes place within the context of the Maine Physical Sciences Partnership (Maine PSP Community Site) and the Center for Research in STEM Education (RiSE Center). This work could not happen without the PhD students of the Physics Education Research Laboratory or the Master of Science in Teaching students in the RiSE Center.

Because multiple perspectives matter, click here for a different way of organizing the work Michael has done in the past.

Curriculum Vitae and Publications

Webpage at the Department of Physics and Astronomy

Recent Publications

Barth-Cohen, L. A. & Wittmann, M. C. (2017) Aligning Coordination Class Theory with a New Context: Applying a Theory of Individual Learning to Group Learning. Science Education.

Wittmann, M.C. and Black, K.E. (2015) Mathematical actions as procedural resources: An example from the separation of variables. Physical Review Special Topics – Physics Education Research, 11, 020114. doi:10.1103/PhysRevSTPER.11.020114

Flood, V.J., Amar, F.G., Harrer, B.W., Nemirovsky, R., Bruce, M.R.M., and Wittmann, M.C. (2015) Paying Attention to Gesture When Students Talk Chemistry: What Can We learn? Journal of Chemical Education 92(1), 11-22 (2015). doi:10.1021/ed400477b

Smith, T. I., Wittmann, M. C., & Carter, T. (2014). Applying model analysis to a resource-based analysis of the Force and Motion Conceptual Evaluation. Physical Review Special Topics – Physics Education Research, 10(2), 020102. doi:10.1103/PhysRevSTPER.10.020102

Harrer, B. W., Flood, V. J., & Wittmann, M. C. (2013). Productive resources in students’ ideas about energy: An alternative analysis of Watts’ original interview transcripts. Physical Review Special Topics – Physics Education Research, 9(2), 023101. doi:10.1103/PhysRevSTPER.9.023101

For a list of all my publications, please click here.

To see my Google Scholar page (auto-generated, often behind the times, and not perfect, but better than the rest), click here.


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Physics Education Research Laboratory
Department of Physics and Astronomy, 5709 Bennett Hall
Phone: 207.581.1033; 207.581.1030; 207.581.1237
The University of Maine
Orono, Maine 04469