Overview of the Foundations and Frontiers in Physics Education Research Conference

Michael Wittmann, Paula Heron, and Rachel Scherr

The third Foundations and Frontiers in Physics Education Research conference was held June 15–19, 2009, in Bar Harbor, Maine. As with the 2005 and 2007 conferences, about 60 active researchers in the field of physics education spent the week on the campus of the College of the Atlantic examining and articulating the current state of the field, exploring future directions, and discussing ways to pursue the most promising avenues for future research.

The conference featured a series of plenary lectures given by established and emerging leaders in PER: Fred Goldberg (San Diego State University), Priscilla Laws (Dickinson College), Andrew Boudreaux (Western Washington University), Danielle Harlow (University of California, Santa Barbara), Stamatis Vokos (Seattle Pacific University), Leslie Atkins (California State University, Chico), Noah Finkelstein (University of Colorado), Andrew Heckler (the Ohio State University), Bruce Sherin (Northwestern University), Olivia Levrini (University of Bologna, Italy) and John Thompson (University of Maine). Each addressed the theme of "Foundations and Frontiers" by synthesizing major accomplishments in the field and/or speculating on the directions they consider especially important and promising. Afternoons were unscheduled, and were variously spent exploring issues raised by the plenaries, developing collaborations, or enjoying the superb weather and natural beauty of Bar Harbor. Evening sessions included topical sessions devoted to specific research issues, a contributed poster session, and working groups on subjects of community-wide interest. Reports from two of the working groups appear on the pages that follow. They address issues facing physics education researchers collaborating across institutions and the requirements for a textbook on PER. A full set of working group reports can be found on the conference website and on Compadre.

Conference participants came from Argentina, Canada, Finland, Italy, South Africa, Sweden and throughout the U.S. Among them were 12 PhD students, whose participation was supported by a grant from the APS Forum on Education. The conference organizers would like to thank the Forum for their continued support of this conference series. The 2009 conference was also supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation, for which the organizers would like to express their gratitude. Additional thanks are due to the staff of the College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor and the Center for Science and Mathematics Education Research at the University of Maine.

More information regarding past and future Foundations and Frontiers in Physics Education Research conferences can be found at http://perlnet.umaine.edu/~ffper/.

Michael Wittmann, Paula Heron and Rachel Scherr are co-organizers of the Foundations and Frontiers in Physics Education Research Conference. Michael Wittmann is Associate Professor of Physics and Cooperating Associate Professor of Education at the University of Maine. Rachel Scherr is Research Assistant Professor of Physics at the University of Maryland. Paula Heron is Professor of Physics at the University of Washington. 

Disclaimer - The articles and opinion pieces found in this issue of the APS Forum on Education Newsletter are not peer refereed and represent solely the views of the authors and not necessarily the views of APS.