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Department of Physics

Dr. Qing Ryan
Cal Poly Pomona
Qing Ryan

Investigating Student Learning in the Upper-division Physics: Difficulties and Assessment


102 Cardwell Hall
April 1, 2019
4:15 p.m. 

Student difficulties at both the introductory and upper-division level have been broadly investigated by the PER (Physics education research) community. Upper-division problem solving involves more complicated math and more sophisticated physics concepts and therefore makes it even more challenging to model the learning process, as well as to make meaningful observations and interpretations of student difficulties.

In this talk, I will start with an overview of the types of questions researchers in PER ask, these questions can be categorized as either a theoretical question, an experimental question or an application question. I will then discuss two studies of student learning in upper-division electrodynamics: Conceputal Assessment and Student difficulties with problem solving. In particular, I will talk about the validity and reliability of a research-based assessment to evaluate student conceptual understanding, as well as how to use theoretical frameworks to characterize the nature of student difficulties with Boundary conditions in the context of electromagnetic waves. These two studies focus primarily on the experimental aspect of PER research. I will also briefly talk about future studies as our interest develops to further connect theory with application.

Bio: Dr. Qing Ryan is a faculty member of Department of Physics & astronomy from California polytechnic university Pomona. She got her PhD in physics from University of Minnesota Twin cities, and did post-doc research at University of Colorado Boulder. She does Physics education research.