A few of the highlights from PER...

Physics education research
is the study of student learning in physics and the teaching of physics. PER is a growing field in physics departments throughout the United States.


Assessment tools


Normalized Gain (G)

One way to gauge students' improvement over the course of a semester.


  • A student with a prescore of 20%, and a postscore of 60% would have a G of 0.50.
  • A student with a prescore of 50% and a postscore of 75% would also have a G of 0.50.



Dick Hake published one of the first analysis of FCI results from colleges & high schools. One of his findings was that "interactive" courses, no matter what techniques were used, yielded higher gains than "traditional" courses.1


Classroom Materials

Many hands-on, and heads-on, research-based materials have been developed and tested.

"The APS applauds and supports the acceptance in physics departments of research in physics education. Much of the work done in this field is very specific to the teaching of physics and deals with the unique needs and demands of particular physics courses and the appropriate use of technology in those courses. ... The APS recognizes that the success and usefulness of physics education research is greatly enhanced by its presence in the physics department."

-APS Statement on Research in Physics Education (May 1999)




  1. R. Hake, "Interactive-engagement vs traditional methods: A six-thousand-student survey of mechanics test data for introductory physics courses" American Journal of Physics 66, 64-74 (1998)