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Department of Physics

Dean Zollman

Dean ZollmanUniversity Distinguished Professor
36B Cardwell Hall
(785) 532-1619
Personal Webpage

Ph.D. University of Maryland, College Park, 1970
M.S. Indiana University, 1965
B.S. Indiana University, 1964

Research Area

Physics Education

We are investigating the transfer of students' learning as they learn about applying physics to medical imaging. Many diagnostic devices used by physicians have their technological foundation in contemporary physics. To understand techniques such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET), students require knowledge of nuclear and quantum physics and must also transfer learning from classical physics or everyday life to these medical applications. Our present research investigates this transfer of learning and its application to understanding both the medical techniques and some classical analogs.

In the Pathway project we are pilot testing and developing sophisticated digital video systems to help teachers who are new to physics teaching make the very large step from having completed a physics course in college to teaching the topic to bright high school students. The system combines state-of-the-art digital video library technology, pedagogical research, and materials contributed by master teachers. This dynamic digital library provides continuously improving assistance and expertise for teachers.

In collaboration with University of Alabama and San Diego State we are looking at how science courses taken at the university level affect the way (or if) elementary school teachers teach science.  We are looking at the way the science courses are taught, what teachers learned during those courses and how they transferred that science knowledge to their own teaching.  The project is just starting and will look a students and graduates of approximately 90 universities.

Research Support

  • National Science Foundation

Recent Selected Publications

D. Zollman (2016).  Oersted Lecture 2014: Physics education research and teaching modern Modern Physics.  American Journal of Physics, 84(8), 573.

D. Zollman (2016).  Reflections on ‘Preparing future science teachers: the physics component of a new programme’.  Physics Education, 51(4),040107.

D. A. Zollman and D. Brown (2016). An introduction to the theme issue. American Journal of Physics, 84(8), 325.

C.M. Nakamura, S.K. Murphy. M.G. Christel, S.M. Stevens, and D.A. Zollman (2016).  Automated analysis of short responses in an interactive synthetic tutoring system for introductory physicsPhysical Review Physics Education Research 12, 010122.

 S.K. Murphy, D.L. Jones, J. Gross, and D. Zollman (2015). Apparatus for investigating resonance with application to magnetic resonance imagingAmerican Journal of Physics, 83, 942.