$2.2M Project to Establish Effective Practices for Undergrad Physics Programs

COLLEGE PARK, MD, September 20, 2018 – The newly-funded Effective Practices for Physics Programs (EP3) Project is a 5-year, $2.2M effort to produce guidelines providing physics programs a collection of knowledge, experience, and proven-effective educational practices, led by the American Physical Society (APS) in collaboration with the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT). The project will produce and disseminate the EP3 Guide, which will be available to physics departments nationwide.

"The purpose of the EP3 Project and the Guide it is creating is to gather research-based knowledge, tools, and information in one place and in an easily accessible format to assist department chairs and other program leaders to meet challenges physics departments face,” said David Craig, EP3 Project Co-Chair and Physics Professor at Le Moyne College in New York and at Oregon State University.  “Whether the task is increasing the number of physics majors, improving departmental climate and inclusivity, implementing effective learning assessment, introducing research-based pedagogical practices into physics classrooms, or preparing for program review, the EP3 Guide will synthesize the research and collective experience of the physics community and help make that up-to-date know-how readily available as part of the toolkit of every physics department in the US.”

In recent years there has been a growing emphasis on accountability in higher education. Yet individual departments frequently create programs and their assessments entirely on their own, without the benefit of the experience of the broader physics community or from published research. At the same time, many specific challenges face the discipline of physics as a whole, including the following:

  • Physics remains among the least diverse of all STEM disciplines.
  • Students, especially from underrepresented groups, are not learning as much as they could in physics courses, in spite of an abundance of effective research-based pedagogies that have been shown to improve learning.

  • Many undergraduate physics programs are modeled after those designed to prepare students as research physicists, while in reality over 65% of students graduating with bachelor’s degrees in physics do not pursue a graduate degree in physics or astronomy.

  • Physics programs nationwide are not producing enough well-prepared high school physics teachers to meet national demand.

“We believe this project has the potential to transform how physics departments engage students in their education,” said Michael Jackson, EP3 Project Co-Chair and Dean of the College of Science and Technology at Millersville University. “The EP3 guide will assist departments in the ongoing review and improvement of their individual programs within the context, and constraints, of their local environment.  This guide will gather practices from a range of resources and national reports, deemed effective by the disciplinary community and informed through current research, into one location so that department chairpersons and other program leaders can readily identify initiatives they would like to pursue along with strategies for their implementation.”

For more information, visit the webpage Effective Practices for Physics Programs (EP3) Project at ep3guide.org.

This work is supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Nos. 1738311, 1747563, and 1821372. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed above do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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