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Abstract Title: Research directions in PER: Past, present and future
Abstract: The field of physics education research has expanded in scope and shifted in foci over the last decade. This session aims to examine the path the community has taken in terms of conceptualization of research paradigms, implications of choices in research population, expansion of scope, and trends in collaborations in publications. By considering the research choices made and examining the impact on researchers, those researched and users of research results, we wish to spark discussion about the present research and future directions in PER.
Abstract Type: Poster Symposium

Author/Organizer Information

Primary Contact: Sissi L. Li
California State University Fullerton
800 N. State College Blvd.
Fullerton, CA 92831
Phone: 657-278-7027

Symposium Specific Information

Discussant: Sissi L. Li
Moderator: Sissi L. Li
Presentation 1 Title: Paradigms in Physics Education Research
Presentation 1 Authors: Amy D. Robertson, Rachel E. Scherr, and Sarah B. McKagan
Presentation 1 Abstract: Physics education research (PER) includes three distinct paradigms: quantitative research, qualitative research, and question-driven research. Quantitative PER seeks reproducible, representative patterns and relationships; human behavior is seen as dictated by lawful (albeit probabilistic) relationships. Qualitative PER seeks to refine and develop theory by linking theory to cases; human action is seen as being shaped by the meanings that participants make of their local environments. Question-driven physics education researchers prioritize their research questions over the pursuit of local meanings or abstract relationships. As such, they privilege research methods that match their particular question at hand, rather than methods that attend to the rich details of a particular context or those that emphasize representativeness or reproducibility. We illustrate each paradigm with interviews with physics education researchers and examples of published PER.
Presentation 2 Title: Fragmented divergence - Trends in PER research topic selection
Presentation 2 Authors: Lyle Barbato
Presentation 2 Abstract: The past decade has seen an astonishing rate of growth in the number of peer-reviewed PER publications. During this time some have come to see the PER field as "fragmented" and "divergent." By analyzing the literature published in PRST-PER and the PERC Proceedings since 2000, trends can be perceived in the research topics selected by PERers. I will discuss these trends in the historical context of PER work.
Presentation 3 Title: Who we study, who we teach
Presentation 3 Authors: Stephen Kanim
Presentation 3 Abstract: How confident should I be that a published PER result will be useful in my classroom?  To a large extent this depends on how similar my students are to the students who have been described by the research.  Based on published results, I have tried to categorize the student populations that have been studied by physics education researchers.  I will compare these students to data about who takes introductory physics courses, and what courses they take.  In general, the students we study are taking more advanced classes and are better prepared than the overall introductory course population.  Our research focus on a select student population has been beneficial because it has demonstrated the usefulness of research-based curriculum development.  Moving forward, the PER community needs to better understand the needs and challenges of more typical student populations.
Presentation 4 Title: Who are we? A network analysis of PER
Presentation 4 Authors: Eleanor C Sayre, Katharine A. Anderson
Presentation 4 Abstract: Studying the participants in a field tells us about the shape of the research community and the development of its members and practices.  Who are the researchers in physics education (PERers)?  For this project, we operationalize PERers as people who have published in PRST-PER, the PERC proceedings, or PER papers in AJP since 1980.  We use network analysis methods to show how the community has changed and grown over time.  We investigate how individuals' participation changes in response to new collaborators, and how different research groups and publication venues have influenced the shape of the network.