Physics Education Research Group News
Kim Coy, Administrative Assistant

Life has been hectic in the Physics Education Research Group this past year both on and off campus!  Sanjay Rebello worked with the High Energy Physics Group on KSU’s QuarkNet project this past summer.  This is an NSF- and DOE-funded program whose aim is to support science education in schools by establishing a nation-wide science teacher network. It provides opportunities for school science teachers to learn firsthand about frontline physics research, and establish mentor relationships between science teachers and physics professors at universities.  Sanjay led sessions based on Visual Quantum Mechanics for the teachers participating this past summer.

Sanjay attended the faculty development Paradigms in Physics Workshop at Oregon State University in June of 2003.  The workshop focused on two of the most broadly applicable Paradigms modular courses OSU has developed: Spin & Quantum Measurement and Energy & Entropy.  

In addition, Sanjay gave an invited talk on “Physics Education Research as a Guide to Application-based Curriculum Development," at the Western Pennsylvania American Association of Physics Teachers Fall Section Meeting on October 24, 2003 at St. Vincent College, Latrobe, PA.  He also conducted a Visual Quantum Mechanics workshop at the St. Louis Association of Physics Teachers Meeting at Lindenwood College in St. Charles, Missouri on November 15. 

Perhaps Sanjay’s biggest endeavor of the year was hosting of the Joint Arkansas-Oklahoma-Kansas and Nebraska AAPT Section Meeting & Big 12 Physics Education Research Conference here at KSU on November 7 and 8.  The meeting was a huge success and included Carl Wieman, 2001 Nobel Laureate as the banquet speaker.  The meeting’s keynote speaker was Len Jossem from Ohio State University and there were invited targeted posters on Physics Education Research from Noah Finkelstein, University of Colorado; David Meltzer, Iowa State University; Meera Chandrasekhar, University of Missouri-Columbia; Mark Plano Clark, Doane College; and Beth Thacker, Texas Tech University.  There was also an invited targeted poster session on High Quality Physics Teaching in Rural America that included Valerie Otero, University of Colorado; Gay Stewart, University of Arkansas; Jim Johnson, Emporia State University; Paul Adams, Fort Hays State University.  In addition, Dr. Alexa Pochowski, Assistant Commissioner of Education at the Kansas Department of Education presented a talk on the No Child Left Behind legislation.

Results of the group’s research have been presented at a variety of meetings this year including the American Association of Physics Teachers Meetings in Austin, Texas this past January and in Madison, Wisconsin during August.  On the international side, research was also presented at the Enrico Fermi School of Physics in Varenna, Italy during the month of July.  This was a wonderful opportunity for Dr. Rebello to attend along with other members of the group to include Alicia Allbaugh, PhD graduate, Zdeslav Hrepic, PhD candidate, and Kara Gray, MS candidate. 

Drs. Zollman and Rebello headed back to Italy in September to present talks at the GIREP Seminar on Quality Development in Teacher Education and Training in Udine.  In addition, Dr. Zollman attended the International Commission on Physics Education (ICPE) Meeting in August in the Netherlands.  The ICPE works to promote the exchange of information and views among the members of the international scientific community in the general field of Physics Education.

When members of PERG are here in the Little Apple, they have been quite busy.  Dr. Zollman and his staff are hard at work on his Digital Libraries grant from NSF. The Physics Teaching Web Advisory (Pathway) is creating a proof-of-concept demonstration of a new type of digital library for physics teaching. Combining Carnegie Mellon University's digital video library technology with pedagogical advances developed at Kansas State University and with materials contributed by master teachers, the Pathway concept goes beyond simply creating a collection of teaching and learning materials. It provides continuously improving assistance and expertise for teachers and students of all levels.  You can check out the Pathway website at and find links providing more information or give Pathway a trial run!

Sanjay Rebello has continued work on his NSF-funded CAREER grant that is studying "Students' Mental Models, Learning and Transfer as a Guide to Application-Based Curriculum Development and Instruction."  Interviews are being conducted on students' mental models by Sanjay, postdoctoral research associate Paula Engelhardt and PhD candidate Edgar Corpuz. This research has recently focused on sound, the bicycle and other devices that students use in their everyday lives.  Development of instructional units focused on some of these applications and addressing multiple concepts is beginning to take shape.

Sanjay is also conducting research with Andrew Bennett of the Math Department on the NSF-funded project, "Assessing Student Transfer and Retention of Learning in Math, Physics and Engineering Courses."  Dr. Rebello and MS candidate Darryl Ozimek are conducting student interviews and designing surveys that investigate students' conceptual understanding in math courses and investigating student transfer and retention of learning from Engineering Physics to Statics and Dynamics and Electromagnetic Theory.

The group was lucky enough to have several prestigious visitors this past year.  Professor Manfred Euler visited the KSU PERG for a couple of weeks in April.  Dr. Euler is a faculty member at the IPN (Leibniz Institute for Science Education) in Kiel, Germany.  He is working on the “Physik im Kontext“ (Physics in Context) project at IPN.

Farhat Surve, APS Fulbright Scholar, conducted research with the group from April through August.  Dr. Surve is a senior lecturer at Pune University in India.  He spent his Fulbright year at SUNY Buffalo and Pennsylvania State University prior to his arrival at KSU.  Dr. Surve worked on teaching methodologies related to the development of  multimedia programs, video and audio integrated computer animation supplementing assimilation of concepts in physics and the Research on Learning & Education project in addition to programmed learning in physics laboratory courses during his time at KSU.

In addition, we hosted colloquium speakers Jose Mestre from the University of Massachusetts in the spring semester and Corinne Manogue from Oregon State University during the fall semester.

In personnel happenings, Brian Adrian joined the group as a research associate in August. Brian was previously a faculty member at Bethany College in Lindsborg, KS.  He completed his Ph.D. in 1997 at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln under the direction of Robert G. Fuller.  Brian is currently working on the NSDL grant for which Dr. Zollman has received NSF funding.

Salomon F. Itza-Ortiz has left KSU for a tenure-track assistant professor position at San Diego State University on the Imperial Valley campus.  In addition, we congratulate Salomon who was married to Erin White on July 19, 2003.  We wish them all the best in their new careers and marriage.

Alicia Allbaugh completed her PhD in 2003.  She has accepted a Visiting Assistant Professor position at Rochester Institute of Technology and, in addition to her teaching responsibilities, is conducting research with Dr. Robert Teese on the LivePhoto project creating and evaluating homework that incorporates video analysis.

Alice Churukian, 2002 PhD graduate in Science Education with an emphasis in physics education has begun a tenure-track position in the physics department at Concordia University in Moorhead, Minnesota, this past August. 

Congratulations to former graduate student Lawrence T. Escalada and his wife, Alison, on the birth of their second child.  Elena Delores Escalada was born on October 24, 2003. 

Additional information about the group is available at