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Chase and Wittmann (2012): PERC Paper Award Finalist

Congratulations to Evan Chase and Michael C. Wittmann: Their paper “Evidence of embodied cognition via speech and gesture complementarity” was a finalist in the competition for the 2012 PERC Proceedings Paper Award.

UMaine PERL has a track record of outstanding conference proceedings papers. In 2011, Rabindra Bajracharya et al.’s paper “Student interpretation of definite integrals at the math-physics interface” was among the seven finalists for the award. The year before, “Addressing Student Difficulties with Statistical Mechanics: The Boltzmann Factor” by Trevor Smith et al. made it to the final round of nominated papers.

Papers for the PERC Proceedings Paper Award are selected based on feedback from reviewers, the PERC Proceedings editors, and a committee selected by the Physics Education Research Leadership Organizing Council (PERLOC). The award winner is chosen for the outstanding quality of the carried out research, the overall readability of the paper, and the potential impact on the PER Community. An amount of $200 is awarded to the authors of the winning paper.

Welcome Jon Shemwell and Mac Stetzer!

The Physics Education Research Laboratory welcomes two new faculty members!

Jonathan Shemwell, Assistant Professor of Education and Cooperating Assistant Professor of Physics, joins us from Stanford University.

MacKenzie Stetzer, Assistant Professor of Physics, came to us from the University of Washington.

Presentations at PERC 2011 in Omaha

After the presentations of the AAPT, we leapt right into the PERC and were even busier there.

Conference program

Invited Posters:
Benedikt W. Harrer, Rachel E. Scherr, Michael C. Wittmann, Brian W. Frank, Hunter G. Close, “Elements of Proximal Formative Assessment in Learners’ Discourse about Energy” (abstract)

John R. Thompson, David Roundy, Donald B. Mountcastle, “Representations of Partial Derivatives in Thermodynamics” (abstract)

Michael C. Wittmann, “What a Mathematical Representation Tells Us About Reasoning About Integrals” (abstract)

Contributed Posters:
Rabindra R. Bajracharya, John R. Thompson, Thomas M. Wemyss, “Student interpretation of definite integrals at the math-physics interface” (abstract)

Jeffrey M. Hawkins, Brian W. Frank, John R. Thompson, Michael C. Wittmann, Thomas M. Weymss, “Probing student understanding with alternative questioning strategies” (abstract)

Adam Kaczynski, Michael C. Wittmann, “Students Reconciling Contradictory Commitments in Damped Harmonic Motion Problems” (abstract)

Sergio Rojas, “Preparation for Future Learning in Physics via Dynamic Problem Solving Strategies” (abstract)

Trevor I. Smith, John R. Thompson, Donald B. Mountcastle, “Student Understanding of Taylor Series Expansions in Statistical Mechanics” (abstract)

John R. Thompson, Warren M. Christensen, Chris L. Rasmussen, Marcy H. Towns, “TRUSE Conference: Integrating Undergraduate Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics Education Research” (abstract)

Michael C. Wittmann, Evan Chase, “Evidence of Embodied Cognition about Wave Propagation” (abstract)

Presentations at the AAPT Summer Meeting 2011 in Omaha

This summer, PERL showcased its work at both the AAPT and PERC meetings in Omaha. Talks were well-received, and our papers were all accepted for publication.

Codes in parantheses refer to the abstract entry in the conference program.

Invited Presentations:
MacKenzie R. Stetzer, “Using Experiments to Foster Conceptual Understanding: Insights from PER” (AD01)

Contributed Presentations:
Rabindra R. Bajracharya, John R. Thompson, Thomas M. Wemyss, “Student Reasoning about Graphical Representations of Definite Integrals” (CB01)

Benedikt W. Harrer, Rachel E. Scherr, Michael C. Wittmann, Hunter G. Close, Brian W. Frank, “Two Right Answers: The Difficulty of Reconciling Competing Physics Commitments” (DI03)

Jeffrey M. Hawkins, Brian W. Frank, John R. Thompson, Michael C. Wittmann, Thomas M. Wemyss, “Probing Student Understanding with Alternative Questioning Strategies” (CB04)

Adam Kaczynski, Michael C. Wittmann, “Students’ Contradictory Commitments in Damped Harmonic Motion Problems” (CB05)

Trevor I. Smith, John R. Thompson, Donald B. Mountcastle, “Student Difficulties with a Taylor Series Expansion in Statistical Mechanics” (EB10)

Michael C. Wittmann, Evan Chase, “Pulling a Spring Taut Affects Students’ Talk about Wave Propagation” (DI08)

Contributed Posters:
Rabindra R. Bajracharya, John R. Thompson, Thomas M. Wemyss, “Student Reasoning about Graphical Representations of Definite Integrals” (PST2C02)

Jeffrey M. Hawkins, Brian W. Frank, Michael C. Wittmann, John R. Thompson, Thomas M. Wemyss, “Probing Student Understanding with Alternative Questioning Strategies” (PST2C15)

Adam Kaczynski, Michael C. Wittmann, “Students Reconciling Contradictory Commitments in Damped Harmonic Motion Problems” (PST2C24)

Trevor I. Smith, John R. Thompson, Donald B. Mountcastle, “Student Understanding of Taylor Series Expansions in Statistical Mechanics” (PST2C48)

Session Presider:
John Thompson, “Research in Undergraduate Math Education” (GF)

Congratulations to Dr. Trevor Smith!

Trevor I. Smith successfully defended his dissertation, “Identifying and Addressing Specific Student Difficulties in Advanced Thermal Physics,” on Thursday, March 17. Congratulations to the new Dr. Smith!

Congratulations to Casey Murphy!

On Nov 22, Casey successfully defended her masters thesis entitled “Answer-Seeking and Idea-Constructing During Collaborative Active-Learning Activities in a Physics Laboratory.” The work used video from the PHY 105 class, “Intuitive Quantum Physics,” and involved interaction analysis methods while building on past work by Scherr and Hammer. Congrats, Casey!

Papers by Smith et al., Hawkins et al.

Check out our publication blog, where you can find records of our newest publications by Jeff Hawkins (working with Michael Wittmann, John Thompson, alum Ellie Sayre, and Brian Frank) and Trevor Smith (working with John Thompson and Don Mountcastle).

Congratulations to Dr. R. Padraic Springuel

Padraic Springuel successfully defended his dissertation, “Applying Cluster Analysis To Physics Education Research Data,” on Tuesday, December 5.  Congratulations to the new Dr. Springuel!

Congratulations to Dr. Katrina Black

Katrina Black successfully defended her dissertation, “Multiple Perspectives on Student Solutions to Air Resistance Problems,” on Monday, August 23.  Congratulations to the new Dr. Black!

Dr. Black is currently working as a postdoctoral research associate for the Maine Center for STEM Education Research, primarily researching curricular materials and resources for the Maine Physical Sciences Partnership project.

Why teach physics?

PhysTEC has created a video on what it means to be a physics teacher. It’s worth sharing:


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Contact Information

The Physics Education Research Laboratory
Phone: (207) 581-1237 and (207) 581-1030E-mail: wittmann@umit.maine.edu and john.thompson@umit.maine.edu
The University of Maine
Orono, Maine 04469
207.581.1865