Creating a Resource for Faculty:  Implementation Guides

                                By John D. Thompson

                                      Supervisor:  Dr. Eleanor Sayre   

Kansas State University Physics Department  REU Program


This program is funded by the National Science Foundation through grant number PHY-1157044.  Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

Hello!  This website serves as a summary of the work I did for Dr. Sayre during the summer of 2014 with Jaime E. Richards, from Rowan University.  We created about 30 unique implementation guides, each of which tells you how to use a particular research-based assessment in your classroom.  In addition, we attended the AAPT Summer Meeting in Minneapolis to present our work in the form of a poster and educate ourselves further in the field of physics education research (PER).

Below, I describe the Project Overview, my Research Description, and my final presentation, which is in the form of a poster we spent an inordinate amount of time designing and perfecting.  We had a weekly Ethics class and semi-weekly Lectures.   At the bottom of the page are personal facts, or About Me.  Finally, I've included some Useful Links.  Here’s a page for Dr. Sayre’s research group. 

Project Overview:  Research-based assessments are tools created by members of the PER community to measure student learning and identify common ideas and attitudes students have about physics.  Being able to reliably evaluate student learning is essential in understanding how to develop and implement better teaching methods.  In general, physics faculty recognize the importance of these assessments, and are actually pretty enthusiastic about using them in their classrooms.  However, information about these assessments is scattered and can be rather inscrutable if you don’t have a PER background.  Unsurprisingly, this means that a lot of the faculty members who would like to use these research-based methods find themselves unable to figure out how to do it properly.

To address this problem, we spent a great deal of time hunting for research about these different assessments.  From there, we carefully read and summarized this research, and put all the pertinent information into a standardized worksheet format which we call an implementation guide.  These implementation guides are available to everyone online at (though you need to be a physics teacher to view the actual tests for security reasons).  By improving access to these research-based assessments, more teachers will be able to use proven research-validated methods to maximize the effectiveness of their teaching.

Final Presentation: 
Here is the poster we presented at the AAPT summer meeting, which we also used for our final presentation. 

Lectures:  We had two lectures most weeks from the all-stars of K-state physics.  Larry Weaver gave us an introduction to special relativity, Chris Sorensen taught us about light scattering, Carlos Trallero showed us a quantum-mechanical picture of the atom, Eleanor Sayre demonstrated how to teach quantum mechanics without math, and Bharat Ratra gave us a broad overview of everything in existence (he’s a cosmologist).

Ethics Class:  Our weekly ethics class largely consisted of the professors (Bruce Glymor and Amy Lara) introducing an ethical topic and then posing a difficult question to us for group discussion.  The classes were pretty informal, as the goal wasn’t to teach us about the basics of philosophy but rather to introduce us to some of the questions we’ll invariably have to confront in our careers as physicists.  We spent a long time discussing research and schoolwork ethics since it was something that we all felt pretty strongly about, and I certainly gained a broader perspective from the exercise.

About Me:  I do lots of things in addition to physics!  For instance, I:

1.      Think videogames are the greatest

2.      Can throw a baseball over thirty miles per hour

Okay, maybe that’s not “lots of things”, but I do the heck out of those two.

Here’s a recent photo of me at the Grand Canyon!

I wasn’t feeling well.

Useful Links: 

American Physical Society Statements on Ethics

American Institute of Physics

My Research group's home page: