Forum on Education of the American Physical Society
H. Vincent Kuo
PER-CENTRAL - The Physics Education Research – Community Enhancing Network for Teaching, Research and Learning (http://per-central.org) is a ComPADRE collection designed specifically to serve as an informational touch-point and online community for “producers” and “consumers” of physics education research (PER). The collection contains information about and links to a wide range of materials and resources for the use of people conducting research on the teaching and learning of physics. Some of these materials are also useful to teachers and administrators interested in applying the findings of physics education research.
The resources in the collection are currently sorted in the following categories: News and Events, Research Work, Groups and People, Curriculum, and Bibliography.
There is now a special series in the collection called Reviews in Physics Education Research. In the review articles published in this series, researchers help bridge research and practice, bringing the results of extended, multi-year research and development projects to the instructional community. The first volume is on research-based reform of university physics. Over the past two decades, the PER community has not only learned a great deal about how students learn and do not learn in the calculus-based (university) physics class, it has developed a number of effective instructional environments. The first issue contains four invited review articles where the developers of some of these curricula present an overview of their work. Additional editions are under development.
The collection also includes a direct link to the new digital Physical Review Journal devoted entirely to Physics Education Research: PRST-PER. This journal is free of charge, and contains peer-reviewed articles on the latest research results in physics education.
A user can search and browse the reference database without joining PER-CENTRAL. However, membership – which is free – does have its benefits. Members of PER-CENTRAL have additional tools that improve their use of the site. These include individual search preferences, a personal filing cabinet to store resources found to be useful, access to discussion forums with other community members, the facility to create a personal group with restricted membership, and the ability to recommend resources for inclusion in the database.
Becoming a member of PER-CENTRAL is straightforward; click on the “create an account” link in the navigation bar – located on the left-hand side of the PER-CENTRAL site – and answer a few simple questions. Once a member, a user can begin to enjoy the following tools:
Things to come
Since the primary goal of the collection is to serve the users, we are currently in discussion with several members of the PER community on how to expand the collection to meet more of the community’s needs. Here are just a couple of the features that will be implemented in the near future:
The usefulness of this collection depends entirely on the participation of its users. The more comments, suggestions, and opinions we get, the better the collection becomes. I cordially invite you to access the site (http://per-central.org) and play around. If you find the collection to be beneficial, please join our community, and bring your friends and colleagues. Let me know how we can expand the collection to better serve your needs.
H. Vince Kuo is a lecturer with the Physics Department at Colorado School of Mines. He received his Ph.D. in Education at the University of Minnesota in 2004. Dr. Kuo’s area of expertise is physics education research, with a concentration in problem solving in introductory calculus-based physics. He has helped develop several laboratory activities at UMN, and helped in the development of student activities that complemented the Matter and Interactions curriculum at NCSU in the SCALE-UP environment. As the editor for the PER-CENTRAL, Dr. Kuo is working to establish an electronic home base for the Physics Education Research community.