FFPER 2017: Reports from Collaborative Groups

Rachel E. Scherr, Seattle Pacific University
Michael C. Wittmann, University of Maine
Paula R. L. Heron, University of Washington

In June of 2017, 60 members of the Physics Education Research (PER) community gathered at the College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine, for the 7th biennial “Foundations and Frontiers in Physics Education Research” (FFPER) conference. First held in 2005, and modeled after the Gordon Conferences, this meeting is a venue for specialists who are active researchers in the field of physics education. Talks at the conference are all in a plenary format, typically addressing the speaker’s take on the major accomplishments of the field of PER (Foundations) or describing possibly promising research directions (Frontiers). This year’s plenary speakers were: Eleanor Close (Texas State University), Andy diSessa (University of California – Berkeley), Ben Dreyfus (George Mason University), Antje Kohnle (University of St. Andrews), Cassandra Paul (San Jose State University), Geoff Potvin (Florida International University), Vashti Sawtelle (Michigan State University), Trevor Smith (Rowan University), and Ben Zwickl (Rochester Institute of Technology). The plenary sessions are followed by coffee breaks and discussion sessions in which attendees engage deeply with the speakers and with each other.

Afternoons at the conference are spent in smaller sessions. Conference attendees self-organize into collaborative groups that examine particular research interests or explore current issues in PER. This year, the collaborative groups included one that examined the state of accessibility and inclusion for people with disabilities in physics, one that invited community engagement with the Best Practices for Undergraduate Physics Programs (BPUPP) task force, one that discussed the use of statistics in the PER community, one in which PER graduate students, postdocs, and faculty co-created a resource for newcomers to the field, and one in which PER graduate students worked with faculty mentors to review and improve each other’s short papers. Each of these groups has provided a short write-up of their discussion for this newsletter.

The FFPER conference continues to exist and flourish in part because of the financial support of the Forum on Education and the Topical Group on Physics Education Research. Members of the PER community value FFPER as a space in which to immerse ourselves in current research and to form connections and collaborations with other members of the community.

Rachel E. Scherr, Michael C. Wittmann, and Paula R. L. Heron co-founded FFPER and have co-organized it since its inception.

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 the APS.