Educational & Professional Experience
BS, University of California at Berkeley (1993)
PhD, University of Washington (2002)
I conduct empirical research on the learning and teaching of physics. A main focus is the detailed, systematic examination of student conceptual understanding and reasoning ability before, during, and after instruction in specific physics topics. Rather than asking students to self-report what they do and do not understand, investigations generally involve posing physics tasks and problems to students, and then observing and analyzing their responses. This leads to the identification of productive resources that students bring to bear as well as specific difficulties that can serve as obstacles to learning. I am also interested in how students think about learning and about their own thinking. Self-monitoring, or metacognition, is a difficult skill, but one that is crucial for independent learning. I view my research as applied, as my main goal is to use the results in order to modify instruction so that student learning is enhanced.
In my teaching I strive to engage students actively in their own learning, and challenge them to think through, ponder over, and wrestle with the rich body of concepts, reasoning, and quantitative analysis that comprises physics. Earning the trust of students, and then being able to participate in and witness their intellectual growth and development is the most rewarding aspect of my job. I enjoy teaching a variety of courses in the department, including GUR offerings for non-science majors, algebra- and calculus-based introductory physics, and upper division courses. I also teach in the science education program, which offers courses intended for those pursuing teaching as a profession.