A brief history of physics education in the United States

David Meltzer, Valerie K. Otero

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Abstract

In order to provide insight into current physics teaching practices and recommended reforms, we outline the history of physics education in the United States-and the accompanying pedagogical issues and debates-over the period 1860-2014. We identify key events, personalities, and issues for each of ten separate time periods, comparing and contrasting the outlooks and viewpoints of the different eras. This discussion should help physics educators to (1) become aware of previous research in physics education and of the major efforts to transform physics instruction that have taken place in the U.S., (2) place the national reform movements of today, as well as current physics education research, in the context of past efforts, and (3) evaluate the effectiveness of various education transformation efforts of the past, so as better to determine what reform methods might have the greatest chances of success in the future.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)447-458
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican Journal of Physics
Volume83
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 1 2015

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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