University of Wisconsin, Platteville
- Pawl, Andrew
- Scaife, Thomas
Though this group is technically newly formed with the hire of its first PER specialists (Assistant Professors Andrew Pawl and Thomas Scaife) in 2010 and 2011, UW-Platteville's physics department (now a portion of the Chemistry and Engineering Physics department) has placed an emphasis on pedagogically sound undergraduate education throughout its history.
When plans were made for the construction of the new physics building (completed January 2010), the department fought for and won the inclusion of three studio physics classrooms. The mainstream introductory courses (algebra and calculus based) are now taught in these classrooms. To facilitate the transition to studio instruction, Professor Phil Young secured an NSF CCLI grant (2005-present) allowing the purchase of modern lab equipment, the training of instructors, and the assessment of results.
UW-Platteville boasts several advantages for PER. Although the school is small (~7000 undergraduates), there is an engineering degree program. Thus, the introductory calculus-based mechanics and E&M courses each run several sections of about 50 students every semester. The availability of studio facilities, the large number of students and courses, and the tradition of substantial instructor autonomy are tremendous advantages for a researcher who wishes to rapidly implement and evaluate a pedagogical reform.