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Department of Physics

N. Sanjay Rebello

Sanjay RebelloProfessor
503 Cardwell Hall
(785) 532-1539
Personal Webpage

Ph.D. Brown University, 1995
Sc.M Brown University, 1992
M.Sc. Birla Inst. of Tech & Science, India, 1989

Research Area

Physics Education
Exploring Visual Cueing to Facilitate Problem Solving in Physics

This project strengthens an existing partnership between a cognitive psychologist mentor and physics education researcher mentee who test the hypothesis that appropriately designed visual cues provided on physics problems can improve students physics problem solving by exploring and exploiting the link between cognition and eye movements in the context of physics problem solving. Although this project focuses on problem solving in physics, the results of the research have implications for learning in other STEM disciplines where the use of images is important.  Beyond its immediate scope, the project will benefit the field of physics education research by infusing ideas from cognitive psychology regarding visual cueing into physics education research, It will also potentially change the ways visual media are used in physics and other STEM instruction to more effectively facilitate students' learning.

Infusing Pedagogical Content Knowledge into a Physics Course for Future Elementary Teachers

The project is aimed at reforming a conceptual physics course for future elementary teachers.  We integrate pedagogical content knowledge into the fabric of the course so that future elementary teachers can recognize the relevance of learning physics concepts and using reform-based pedagogy in their future roles in the classrooms of tomorrow. The modified course is structured around an instructional model called the pedagogical learning bicycle (PLB) – an adapted two-layered 3E learning cycle. The expected outcome of this project is that future teachers completing the course will be able to design lesson plans that demonstrate a deep understanding of both content and pedagogy.  Further these future teachers will show positive improvements on surveys that measure their views about science and beliefs about learning science.

Trajectories of Learning & Transfer of Problem Solving Expertise from Mathematics to Physics to Engineering

This collaborative project with faculty in mathematics and engineering is a step in creating a knowledge base on the evolution of students' problem solving skills in STEM courses.  We investigate the development and transfer of problem solving skills in undergraduate mathematics, physics and engineering courses.  We use individual semi-structured interviews to capture fine grained data about individual student's problem solving.  Based on these insights we have developed and tested instructional modules to improve the use of students' problem solving skills. Furthermore, our research has contributed to the theoretical underpinnings of describing how learners construct knowledge by bringing to bear their previous experiences and prior knowledge.

Research Support

  • National Science Foundation
  • Kansas Department of Education

Recent Selected Publications

"Can Short Duration Visual Cues Influence Students' Reasoning and Eye Movements in Physics Problems?," Adrian Madsen, Amy Rouinfar, Adam M. Larson, Lester C. Loschky, and N. Sanjay rebello, "Physics Review Special Topics - Physics Education Research 9, 020104 (2013). [link]

"Do Perceptually Salient Elements in Physics Problems Influence Students' Eye Movements and Answer Choices," Adrian Madsen, Adam M. Larson, Lester C. Loschky, and N. Sanjay rebello, "AIP Conference Proceedings 1513, 274-277 (2013). [link]

"Representational Task Formats and Problem Solving Strategies in Kinematics and Work," Bashirah Ibrahim and N. Sanjay Rebello, Physical Review Special Topics - Physics Education Research, 8, 010126 (2012). [link]

"Teaching integration with layers and representations: A case study," Joshua Von Korff and N. Sanjay Rebello, Physical Review Special Topics - Physics Education Research, 8, 010125 (2012). [link]

"Differences in visual attention between those who correctly and incorrectly answer physics problems," Adrian Madsen, Adam M. Larson, Lester C. Loschky, and N. Sanjay Rebello, Physical Review Special Topics - Physics Education Research, 8, 010122 (2012). [link]

"Exploration of Factors that Affect the Comparative Effectiveness of Physical and Virtual Manipulatives in an Undergraduate Laboratory," Jacquelyn J. Chini, Adrian Madsen, Elizabeth Gire, N. Sanjay Rebello and Sadhana Puntambekar, Physical Review Special Topics - Physics Education Research, 8, 010113 (2012). [link]