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The APS Council, acting on the advice of the APS Committee on Education, adopted two education-related statements at its meeting on 21 May 1999. The statements are below.
The scientific societies listed below urge the physics community, specifically physical science and engineering departments and their faculty members, to take an active role in improving the pre-service training of K-12 physics/science teachers. Improving teacher training involves building cooperative working relationships between physicists in universities and colleges and the individuals and groups involved in teaching physics to K-12 students. Strengthening the science education of future teachers addresses the pressing national need for improving K-12 physics education and recognizes that these teachers play a critical education role as the first and often-times last physics teacher for most students. While this responsibility can be manifested in many ways, research indicates that effective pre-service teacher education involves hands-on, laboratory-based learning. Good science and mathematics education will help create a scientifically literate public, capable of making informed decisions on public policy involving scientific matters. A strong K-12 physics education is also the first step in producing the next generation of researchers, innovators, and technical workers.
In recent years, physics education research has emerged as a topic of research within physics departments. This type of research is pursued in physics departments at several leading graduate and research institutions, it has attracted funding from major governmental agencies, it is both objective and experimental, it is developing and has developed publication and dissemination mechanisms, and PhD students trained in the area are recruited to establish new programs. Physics education research can and should be subject to the same criteria for evaluation (papers published, grants, etc.) as research in other fields of physics. The outcome of this research will improve the methodology of teaching and teaching evaluation. 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 successful adaptation of physics education research to improve the state of teaching in any physics department requires close contact between the physics education researchers and the more traditional researchers who are also teachers. The APS recognizes that the success and usefulness of physics education research is greatly enhanced by its presence in the physics department.
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